Wow! You’ve been working towards a promotion and now you’ve just been given your first job as a manager of a group. This is a great opportunity and you are determined to let everyone know that their choice was a good one.
Here are some things you can do to ensure your first few months set you up for success as a strong leader:
In the first 2 weeks you want to do the following:
Meet with each individual that reports to you to get a download from them on;
- What they’ve accomplished this year
- What their challenges are (so you can be watching and coaching)
- What the plans going forward are
- What they see the purpose of their position to be.
All of these items are good starter things to know. You are in the process of learning these people at a level you haven’t done before and these are the things you need to know about them. Even if you did one of those jobs, you don’t know nor have you “looked” at these people from this vantage point. You will not truly absorb all of that just by the first meeting but it starts your process and gives your people a chance to really be heard by you.
In the first month you want to do the following:
You need to meet with everyone that either supports you – like an admin or adjacent department manager. You need to further understand their jobs and how they interact with your position. Getting to know players and positions is the most vital thing you can do to get started. By doing this, you will be more effective sooner.
Meet with the boss early and often:
- Make sure you meet with your boss to understand what goals are expected and what resources you have to support those goals besides your group. Knowing their goals will help you define the goals you will want to plan for your people.
- Knowing the goals sets your baseline for performance but it’s vital for you to understand how they will measure your performance. You need to know what they need from you to let them know how you AND your group is performing.
Figure out what your job is:
- You need to figure out what your tasks are versus the tasks of those reporting to you. You will likely do things differently than the previous manager so it’s important for you to figure out what you need from your group, when you need it and communicate that to them in this window. This will be a be rough to start with as anything that represents a change usually is, so be patient until you all get a rhythm going.
- You will invariably be told “this isn’t how the previous manager did it”. Don’t be defensive or blow it off. Listen to what is being told to you about your job as learning your job will come from your group as much as it will come from the boss. You can decide for yourself if you want to adapt what was done previously or invent your own way of doing things.
- The biggest aspect to your role is that you act as a communication conduit between higher management and your group. Figure out the specifics of when to meet as a group and each individual quickly so communication isn’t missing during your transition into this new role.
In the first 1-2 months:
- Make a plan for both long term and short term to that will get you and your group to the goals. A good leader always has a plan and articulates that plan soon and often. You can’t really accomplish this in the first couple of weeks but what you learn in those first couple of weeks will strongly inform this step. You should get your group together to help develop this plan. This is also important to solidifying yourself as a strong manager and leader. Leaders have vision and plans, they can communicate and engage others in that vision and plan.
- Once you have a plan, engage and communicate that to the boss and anyone else that is a stakeholder. They want to know you are taking charge and this is one of the most powerful ways of doing it.
- With your plan in place, plan out how you will be updated and update to your group and to the higher management. It’s not enough to have the plan you must execute and in the process, be a source of ongoing communication.
First impressions matter and these first few months of your new leadership position have the potential of establishing your personal brand.