New job with a familiar department
Background: For about a year I have been working (some of my time) in a consultant role for another department in my company, doing process improvement and setting up a reporting tool. Recently I have been offered the position of manager back office there. I have some experience managing a small back office (me and 3 directs) when I was younger, though at the time it was called 'team lead' and (young as I was) I kind of did and learned on the fly (didn't we all?)
The thing is, I won't be able to take over the department just now. In a few months the unit will be audited and they're not well prepared yet. I am currently helping the prep which means I am there almost full time, working closely with the current manager back office. During this time I will also have regular interactions with my future team (8 people).
Now, management MIGHT decide to go ahead with the change anyway. I have briefed them that I will not be able to both manage the BO and (significantly) contribute to the audit-prep. So my timeline is that somewhere in the next 2 months I expect to be given this team. The team knows something is up as reorganisations have been announced. (I hate the thought of leaving them in uncertainty for 2 months more...)
To complicate things further, there is a (major)performance issue with 2 of my future team members. One of those might be terminated before I take over, or not. Higher management is currently discussing with HR. The rest of them, they are generally known as a 'weak' team with some performance issues. What I have seen last year is that they are ruled by fear by their current manager. I have seen multiple occasions where he has been going at people to the point of crying. I am confident that I will be able to turn most of them around, also the one they're contemplating termination for. I cringe when I hear things like 'should just fire the lot and start over' when they've just suffered from bad management.
My question to you: Would I be able to do something to get a head start on developing my relation with my future team (they all already know me from last year) or will they view me in a totally different light once I become their manager and receive the big red flashing sign on my head?
I feel they need feedback, mainly positive feedback, as soon as possible if I want to show management they can improve and basically, save their asses. On the other hand, they have had such bad experiences with their previous manager that it might take me significantly longer to build even a semblance of a relationship, I don't know, this is the first time I get to take over a team like this. Do any of you have experience in a situation like this to give me some guidance?
I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: so much to do and so little time...