How many times over the course of your career with various managers and leaders have you thought to yourself…“I’ll never do that.” You probably thought this in frustration for many reasons. Perhaps you weren’t given the information you needed to move a project forward or provided the feedback you needed to advance your career or perhaps your manager chronically cancelled meetings with you, as if it wasn’t important to them. On the flip side, you may have had some great experiences with manager’s that made you feel as though your contributions mattered, your voice was heard, and you were a valued member of their team.
Yet, you still grew in your career, and may be at the point of leading a person or a team now. As you dive into the new responsibilities of a new role, you also need to consider the significant task of being a manager of people. Although this type of role can impact people’s careers, few companies lay out their expectations for their people managers or share resources on how to do this effectively.
Therefore, it is up to you to thoughtfully and intentionally set out to be a good people manager. And, you need to do the work to determine what type of people manager you want to be before you step into the new role. That’s right, homework! Why? Because, the first impression you make as a new people manager will be fundamental to the tone you set for your team’s working relationship with you and with each other. You may evolve and grow over time with your team, but your introduction – as with any relationship – will have a big impact.
Catalog your Experiences… Think back to all of the managers and leaders that you have had and consider your retrospective opinion of their role in your professional development, confidence, and industry knowledge.
Set your Intentions… think critically about what type of manager you want to be and then write it down.
• I want to be a leader who…
• I want my team to see me as…
• When people talk about my team, I want to them say…
Day 1: Introduce Yourself… Even if you are not new to a department or company, people want to know their boss. Most employees want to know what’s in it for them? They know they have to build a relationship with you, but they want to know how to do that fast, well and in a way that will positively impact their work life. Before you walk in to your first day, you need to thoughtfully consider how you will answer the following questions in your first meeting with your team:
• Your leadership style
• Your vision and priorities for the team
• Your working style
• How you are going to support their professional development
Even if you can’t answer all of these in the moment, especially your vision and priorities, start to build trust with your team by letting them know the steps you are going to take to identify these and when you plan on getting back to them with this information. If you are going to want their input, let them know, so they can plan their responses.
Week 1: Actively Listen… Part of these introductory conversations are not just about you, but understanding that they want you to know them too. Ask questions that will help you understand them better and show your interest in who they are. You may also want to consider learning about their background and years of experience in the industry and previous manager relationships, which will help you see each employee as a holistic person and help you determine how you are going to manage the moving forward. Some questions you may want to ask:
• Tell me about yourself
• What do you see as your role here?
• What was your biggest accomplishment in the last year?
• What obstacles do you see that you or the team encounter in trying to reach our goals?
• What professional skills or experiences do you have that few people know about?
• What are your aspirational goals for your role this year?
• What do you do to enhance your career learning and development – both internally and externally?
• What can I do to support you?
Assess the Current Culture: You may have heard from your leadership or predecessor about the team culture, but I would caution you to assess it on your own and through conversations with your team members before you put your own stamp on it.
Unique Situations: Every team and organization is different, therefore you need consider other factors such as how large, layered, what different types of workers and how geographically spread-out your team is – all of these will impact how you introduce yourself throughout the first thirty days.
Sustaining the Momentum: You have laid out publicly who you are, what your leadership style is and how you want your team to work together to reach their business objectives and aspirational goals. Now you will need to create a plan on how you are going to engage your employees throughout the year and what balance of in-person, digital and written communications you will share, at what cadence, what educational curriculum you want to set forth to support them in their professional development and how you want your management to lead with their teams and how you are going to show appreciation for them every day through their obstacles and their successes. Finally, always remember while you should guide and help your team to hone and perfect their skill set, it’s equally and often more important to catch them when they do something right and reinforce the things they should keep doing.