Updated: Sep 12
Entering a new job is like stepping onto uncharted territory. You're greeted by a maze of unknowns: unfamiliar faces, undisclosed expectations, and a labyrinth of processes shrouded in mystery. But what if you're not just an ordinary newcomer, but a leader expected to steer the ship from day one?
The adrenaline pumps, the butterflies flutter, and the stakes are higher than ever. As a freshly minted manager, you're not just looking to secure your position; you're determined to shape the narrative of your leadership journey. It's a quest that will be scrutinized by everyone—from the watchful gaze of senior management to the curious eyes of your team. Even external stakeholders have already begun forming their impressions of you and your managerial finesse.
In this guide, I unveil the blueprint for your inaugural week—a masterstroke that will set the stage for your managerial triumphs to come. Get ready to seize control, inspire confidence, and embark on a journey that promises to redefine your career.
1. Make introductions with key stakeholders.
In all of the management roles I have held to date, I invariably made certain that by close of business on the second day, I would have a list of all key stakeholders, contact information, and understood how they impacted my role.
I then reached out and invited them for a 1:1 introductory meeting (in-person or virtual).
In these meetings, I asked them questions to understand what their roles entailed, their view of the organization, their view of the project, and what changes they would like to see. I also asked these stakeholders what went well with my predecessor so I could learn from those things and emulate in my role.
2. Hold first team meeting
This should absolutely be top of your agenda for the first week. It is not a formal team meeting where you tell them what tasks should be on their radar—rather, it’s an opportunity to introduce yourself to them and to get them to introduce themselves to you.
The first team meeting you host should be designed to be a light-hearted initial conversation, so nothing too serious on the agenda.
Remember, in these crucial moments, your team will be sizing you up and your style as their leader and manager, so it’s important to spend this precious time as a rapport-building session.
You could even share some trivia about yourself (unrelated to work) and get everyone in the team to do the same.
You can also ask them to think about where they would like to see their team in the future, what they would like to accomplish, and get them to reflect on this over the coming days/weeks and prepare notes to share with you in your next team meeting, for you all to brainstorm and discuss.
This demonstrates that you are an empathetic and caring leader.
3. Induction training
This should probably go without saying.
But no doubt, you will have mandatory training that you will need to complete. You most likely will also have additional management training modules to complete as well.
Aim to finish these as early as possible, pacing yourself well throughout the first week or two so that you have more time to focus on the creative stuff, like building a team strategy, attending and observing meetings, identifying areas of personal development, streamlining processes, etc.
4. Find a peer mentor.
Management can sometimes be a very lonely pace, a shot in the dark. Having someone to support you, whom you can be frank and open with, ask questions, and learn from what they do well and how they do it—who is not your boss, is critical at this stage in your management career.
The earlier you locate them in your first week, the better.
5. Set a roadmap of expectations for your first 90 days
As a manager, you cannot only be good at managing teams or projects. You’ll need to be good at managing yourself.
Just as you would set strategies with productivity metrics using OKRs and KPIs, set a roadmap of success for your first 90 days in this phase of your management career as well! Identify what you would like to achieve by the end of this period, and then break this down into SMART goals.
Define what you’d like to achieve in the first 30 and 60 days, and what will need to be done in each of the weeks in between.
This is a good topic of conversation for you to discuss with your line manager.
They may have specific goals for your first 90 days that you may not be aware of, so be sure to include them in this planning, and share your progress with them.
6. Understand the company’s long-term vision and strategy.
A typical hierarchy operates with leadership (those in SLT and director-level, who decide on overall business strategy and set the vision), and management (those who deliver on the strategy and vision by leading day-to-day operations in processes, projects, and teams).
Wherever you stand in either of these levels, it’s important to understand the vision of the senior leaders, so you can lead your team with the bigger picture in view, and interweave this vision into your conversations with them regarding their day-to-day performance.
7. Establish rapport and working relationships with individual team members
Get to know each of your team beyond the team meeting. Before your first performance review or appraisal with them, have an initial introductory chat.
Define what they are looking for in terms of satisfaction from their role, and what they need to be able to do their best work and thrive. Understand their strengths and motivations and agree on what your working relationship will look like form here on.
8. Plan calendar of non-negotiable meetings and tasks
Ask your line manager and peer mentor for a list of meetings and regular, repetitive tasks that are standard, set-in-stone as it were, so you can drop them into your calendar and prepare in advance without being pulled in at the last minute, unprepared. This sets your career at your employer on the right track.
9. Identify management training and skills gaps
There’s nothing worse than a manager or leader who has no clue what they’re doing. Employees need a rock to lean on, someone who is decided and positive that they can look to for support from day one.
By the end of your first week (or two), you should be able to identify what areas you have limited knowledge in, what systems you need more training in or exposure to, etc., to enable you to not only do your work well but train and guide your team to do the same.
This is true, not only for technical skills, but for management skills.
Understanding your management style and locating areas of improvement for your soft skills, will be useful for you when you seek out management training or an experienced leadership and management coach at a 1:1 level, as you will know exactly what you need support with.
10. Observe and learn
As tempting as it may be, don’t rush into making changes all at once. People naturally respond negatively to change, especially if it’s a new manager who they’re not familiar with, so you’ll need to do it wisely and have a cautious attitude about introducing big changes.
Instead, focus on observing the way things are currently done, and making subtle changes to improve your team experience and that of your stakeholders.
Observe and learn in meetings, and develop your active listening skills before jumping to conclusions and actions which can cripple your team’s trust in you and your credibility as their manager.
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful as you start your new management role.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, you’d also love my weekly newsletter I release every Wednesday for new and aspiring managers.
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