How to Build Trust and Synergy When Managers Inherit an Existing Team – Part One

There are basically two ways to build a team. Inherit one or build one from scratch. While many managers have the “freedom” to chose whom they want to hire, there are more managers who inherit an existing team, which can quickly lead to mistrust, uncertainty, and fear if you don’t manage your transition with intentional precision. Don’t leave it up to your company to do so. Here’s the coaching talk track and 15 questions that build trust and alignment with your inherited team, and get them excited about having you as their new manager! 

Part Two

Learn how to coach a team of remote sales champions. Get the 2019 Amazon Sales and Management Book of the Year – SALES LEADERSHIP!

Are you Inheriting or Assuming an Existing Team?

“Hey, Sara. Rebecca is getting promoted and we need a manager to cover her region. You’ve mentioned wanting to move into management. How do you feel about taking on this new position?”

It’s the timeless conversation and conundrum that new managers find themselves in when inheriting an existing team. They want to do well. They want to be a supportive leader. They want their team to succeed. And they want each person on their team to achieve their sales targets while balancing a happy, healthy life. 

Yet, when your new team gets wind of this change, their first reaction is not to embrace you with open arms but to fearfully assume radical change will come. 

Reason being, they don’t know you, your expectations, your value, how you manage, if they can trust you, and if you can help them succeed. How do you then absolve these assumptive roadblocks and create or build upon a winning team? 

Iron Fist or Coaching Hand?

Don’t expect your people to adapt to your management style. It doesn’t matter how you like to manage people or how you like to be managed.

Great managers seek to understand each person’s individuality, goals, values, motivations, and priorities to align your management style with how they like to be managed.

First Day on the Job? Don’t Do Anything!

Avoid this common, new manager mistake. That is, assume what the company and your team want that’s going to get them motivated, productive, and accountable.

Every time a new manager starts making changes within an existing team and assumes how their adopted team wants to be managed, productivity and sales drop, along with trust and collaboration.

  1. Don’t make changes. Small or drastic. Your people don’t know you and whether your intentions are for the betterment of the team and the company, or you’re operating from your own self-serving agenda.
  2. Don’t make promises to your team or your manager which you have no idea what they entail, thinking you’re demonstrating your commitment to the company’s success. 
  3. Don’t overpromise anything. Setting practically unachievable expectations on day one makes it very difficult to maintain these expectations throughout your career. 
  4. Don’t assume they need or don’t need your help.
  5. Don’t assume performance, skill, attitude, and especially, trust.

How to Build Trust and Uncover How Your New Team Wants to be Managed

What follows is the coaching coach track and questions to create a healthy foundation where you can develop a “new,” top-performing team, now that you know what they need from you, and what you need from them. 

“What I want for you is to feel that you have a manager you trust who will always be there to support you, have your back, and help you achieve your goals. With our aggressive business objectives, there have been a lot of changes within our company and in people’s roles.

This can create uncertainty and fear, become a distraction, and derail the focus on our goals. I know I’ve felt this way when a new manager took over my team.

I’m not going to assume what kind of relationship or experience you had with prior managers, how you like to be managed, your perception of me and my role, or how you want me to support and coach you.

That’s why I’d love to understand how I can be the best manager for you, address any concerns, and ensure we’re aligned to achieve our goals together, in a mutually supportive and productive way.

Also, I’d love to learn how you do things, and the best practices you use to achieve results so that I can learn from you as much as you can learn from me.

Regardless of your experiences with prior managers, are you open to designing our relationship so expectations are clear, we can enjoy working together, and achieve greater success?”

Now that you’ve set positive intent (The Art of Enrollment) and the benefit each person will experience, you have someone who is open and wants to have this conversation.

15 Questions To Create Alignment and Healthy Relationships With Your New Team

These questions not only build trust but uncover many coaching moments! 

  1. Let’s start by sharing a little about ourselves, the background of our current roles, and how we would like to work with each other?
  2. How would you define your role? How would you define my role?
  3. To avoid sounding redundant, what do you already know about me? What else would you like to know about me?
  4. How have you been managed before?
  5. How would you describe your prior boss’s management style?
  6. What worked? What didn’t work? 
  7. What do you wish your prior manager did more of? Less of? 
  8. How often did you meet with your manager for one-to-one coaching sessions? What was your experience?
  9. What did you find most valuable in terms of how your manager supported and motivated you? Least valuable?
  10. How did their approach align with your expectations around how you like to be managed?
  11. What new expectations, if any, do you have that would make me your ideal manager?
  12. How do you ideally want to be managed (coached, work together, communicate, handle problems, build mutual accountability, etc.)?
  13. Were there any additional goals that were discussed with your prior manager or promises made  which we need to re-evaluate? (Career promotion, change in compensation, role, territory, etc.)
  14. What are some of the areas you excel at that I can learn from?
  15. If you were a new manager, what suggestions would you offer in terms of where I should start focusing on first? 

If you’re thinking you can use these questions with your current team, you can! But what happens when you inherit a team, along with false promises made by their prior manager that your new employees expect you to honor? I’ll cover this conversation in part two of this two-part series, which you can find here. 


Register for my ONLINE SALES LEADERSHIP COACH TRAINING COURSE. Become the leader you know you can be and coach your remote sales team into sales champions. 

If you are still struggling with coaching and building a top performing, accountable remote team who’s achieving their sales goals, email me personally at to set up a time to chat about having me deliver my remote leadership coach training program for your management team.