You’ve just stepped into your new job as a manager or team leader. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your first time leading people or not, the first few days are key in determining your future success with your team.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do no matter what situation you find.
What do you do during your first few days?
Your first day is an important one in your new role and really this day is mostly about planning for your next couple of days.
What you do and who you spend your time with on your first days sends a message to your employees, your peers, and your bosses as to who and what is important to you.
Don’t schedule too much for the first day. You want to minimize disruptions to your employees. You want to observe, listen and learn.
Quickly figure out who to meet with. Use these meetings with your employees, some of your peers and your key bosses to help you learn about your organization’s processes, goals, and culture. Your goal this early on is to gather as much information as possible.
As the new leader, you should strive to set up one-on-ones with all your employees in the first 2-4 days for an introduction and a brief discussion. These meetings should be done in a private space. These meetings will be the first of regular weekly meetings with each member of the team. In the near future, you’ll be working toward setting goals with each person.
How does each person see his/her role in the organization?
Meet with your boss with the goal of gaining a clearer understanding of his/her goals and expectations for you and your team.
What are the goals and expectations your boss/es have of you?
Plan out the content of all of your meetings. For instance, plan what you’ll discuss when you meet and where you’ll be able to meet in private. Also, plan an introduction about yourself, some personal disclosure, and your background. Be brief. Have in mind or write down some open-ended questions for the person you are meeting to get them to tell you how they see their role and what their goals are. When it comes to your bosses you’ll want to find out about their expectations and goals for you.
Over the next 30 days, you’ll be obtaining all the information you can to confirm your initial assessment. This is the time to objectively assess the capabilities of your people.
Many new managers have the urge to start changing things that don’t seem to be working well but it’s better to hold off on any major changes for at least the first 30 days.
The first month is all about learning as much as possible about how everything works. However, it’s equally as important to build rapport with your team. By building rapport with each member of your team, you’ll be on your way to building a foundation of trust that you’ll need to be an effective manager. Building rapport means making small talk, smiling, making good eye contact, having approachable body language, self-disclosing, finding something in common and doing a lot of listening.
Meet with your team as a group. Make sure you’re on time, that there’s an agenda, and that you end on time. At this first group meeting ask people to bring you up to speed as the new leader.
You can ask the group things like:
- What do you think this organization does well?
- What do you think this organization does poorly?
- What would you change if you could?
Establish how frequently you want your group to meet altogether.
Meet with any other personnel that are critical to the operation of the organization and your area such as Human Resources or Customer Support.
Starting with these first 30 days you have hopefully started to establish yourself as a role model who always finds time to talk to your employees. You’re listening to your people and finding ways to communicate with them while not micromanaging them. You’re trying to get a feel for what is on people’s minds. What are their concerns? How do they assess situations?
Understanding your people’s strengths, weaknesses, competence, developmental needs, motivation and issues will help you come up with ways to improve the organization down the road.
Try to observe the dynamics in your group and also between groups and between leaders and subordinates – especially in informal settings.
Make it a point to be visible around your organization. Get out and walk around if it applies.
Be prepared especially during the first 30 days for the fact that you are being “sized up” by your employees as you work to gain their confidence and establish your credibility.
Leaders gain trust through open communication and demonstrating their competencies.
Feel free to talk to your employees about what is important to you and what you value as their leader.
Your main job in the end is to provide results for your organization. You don’t get those results through you but through your people.
Your employees always have a choice. They can give you extraordinary performance, do what’s expected or give you poor performance. That depends on you.
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