I recently took over a team that had been without effective leadership for a long period of time. (I've led a team before but one that I had built, not one that I had adopted.) As well, the team had a reputation within our organization for under-performing and for "high-school" behavior (infighting that created serious divisions within the team). As well, the team had fallen behind in their workload to a point where it was affecting other teams.
The team is aware of their reputation and seem to me to be extremely defensive and guarded. I tried not to make any drastic changes for the first couple of months (no procedural changes but I did implement one-on-one meetings). I focused on getting the team caught up by completing as much of their workload as I could - my thinking was that this was where I could make an immediate gain, it would help to relieve some of the pressure that the team was under, and it would convey that I wasn't just an arm-chair quarterback.
After a couple of months, the workload was starting to get manageable and I felt ready to start making some changes. This is where things started to go off the rails. Every change has been met with immediate, vehement and collective opposition. As well, the team has begun to focus on every mistake that they perceive I've made and taking their 'concerns' to upper management. When asked if they have talked to me about their concerns they indicate that I'm unapproachable.
At this point I'm not sure if the problem is with me or them or both. I'm not sure that I did enough to fit in and build relationships before I made changes. Now I'm not entirely sure how to repair the damage I may have caused in the team's morale.
I feel like if I admit that I've made a mistake they'll just smell blood in the water and I'll never be able to maintain any kind of authority. On the other hand, I need to find a way to gain their acceptance and respect.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.