Whether you have taken over from your previous boss, moved to manage a new team in your organisation, or have been brought in externally, you want to be taken seriously from the outset. This requires you to know your job description, but also the culture within the team and the organisation. The first 3 months is usually thought of as the most critical period, and it’s during this time that you will make a lasting impression.
What you will want to avoid is giving the wrong impression of someone who just wants to make their mark, stamp their authority and change everything. Below are a few tips on leadership skills and communication skills to demonstrate when you first take on a new management role:
- Talk with your management team/direct reports to understand the culture of the office (including habits, attitudes and how long they’ve been working together), but also find out about them as people, their aspirations, what works well, what they think are the current urgent problems that need solving, and what they would like to develop for themselves and their teams. Ask questions, listen carefully and start to instil a level of trust.
- Arrange to meet the rest of your team, either in groups or individual meetings (depending on the size of your team). Introduce yourself and start to let them know who you are. Let people see you i.e. “walk the floor”, rather than lock yourself away in an office.
- Find out what is working well for the people in the office and towards the mission of the organisation.
- Fully understand the current situation of the work involved, before making any major changes. Coming in trying to change everything from the outset may feel like the best way to make your mark, but you may miss vital information and you may lose the trust of the people working for you.
- Ask questions about the team’s preferred communication style – what kind of information they are used to receiving and in what format.
- When you conduct staff meetings, foster an open environment that allows people to feel secure in asking questions and giving their feedback.
- Set out clearly what your leadership style is and how you would like others to interact with you. Let them know what your preferences are for emailing, calls, timeliness of meetings, open door policy etc. And holding people accountable for their actions early on, and to your standards, helps to set clear expectation levels.
- Explain the importance of your team in providing direction and contributing to the achievements of the department.
- If you can see that performance is poor, then make sure that the team understand that it’s not personal, it’s the situation that needs to be changed – and that they are the team that can make it happen.
- Once you feel like you understand the culture, what is working, and you have taken the time to really listen, then you can start making the changes you see are needed and will have encouraged the support of the team to make it happen.
If you’ve had experience of other managers who have joined your existing department, who seem to have no interest in the individuals in the team and stamp their authority by changing processes without fully understanding the consequences, you can see that taking a bit of time at the beginning of your tenure to do the above can make that all important but positive lasting impression.
What is essential at this time is an in-depth understanding of your own preferred management style, decision-making approach, expectations and stress triggers, as are exceptional leadership skills in listening, motivation and effective communication. Self-awareness and an understanding of how to encourage solutions-based learning and inspire creativity in others will give you that winning edge. To find out how executive coaching could help you gain this advantage, go to www.assiem.co.uk/executive-coaching
If you are a manager starting a new role, or an organisation wishing to help their new managers, then please download our free guide to a Successful Manager Transition.