How To Survive Your First Month As A Manager

So you have landed the job of your dreams as a senior manager or you’ve hired your first employee – what to do next? The pressure will start and it may come from the places that you least expected. People will want to see what you have got and what you will bring to the role. Some will test you, some will support you but have no doubt all will be watching you. The people above you will want to see progress, results and plans. They may also want to see change, depending on the starting position. They will expect to see problems addressed. They will expect you to see the problems that they see.

Others in your team will watch for a very different reason. They will want to know, how is this change going to affect me? These expectations may make you tempted to start ‘doing stuff.’ This may mean making changes and doing it fast.

Slow down and breathe
There will be time to deal with the issues. When it feels like you don’t, think again.
Back yourself and form your own opinions. You have been hired for a reason and unless you fudged your own CV you have all the skills and resources to do this job. So before you take any actions assess the current situation and really look at what you have inherited.

Who is on your team?
Spend time wandering around. Have one on one conversations with people on your team. Find out what they think and what makes them tick. Ask them about the business. It is amazing how engaged people can be when you ask and then truly listen and care about what they think and value their opinions. This is 101 Rapport building and if you want the best from your team you need to start here.

Don’t sit in front of the computer
Repeat this exercise with customers if appropriate. Get out and talk to as many as you can. It is an opportunity to get valuable feedback and really find out what is important to them and what you are doing well and what they don’t like.

Keep listening (and talking)
Talk to anyone who will listen. Many different vantage points and opinions will give you valuable feedback on what is going well and what is not going so well. Having learned the term Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) I cannot tell you how valuable this is and how much real information you will hear. Not only are you connecting with the people that are the lifeblood of the company and finding out what makes them tick you are building rapport and trust. You will by now have discarded all of the information you were told at interview. You have gathered you own information.

Where to now?
Your dumb questions are enabling you to build up your own SWOT analysis. What are we good at? Where are we weak? Where are the opportunities? What are the threats? Who are our good people? Who’s struggling? What follows is a well thought out list of what your priorities will be during the remainder of your first 90 days. Then communicate your findings to the key stakeholders and give them the opportunity to challenge your assumptions. They need to understand what you are trying to achieve so they can support your aspirations and decisions.

Get the first 30 days right and you will achieve more in your first 90 days and be ready for your first review. All because you took the time to ask and listen to the people that can make it work.

Di is the founder of Di Kenyon transformations.

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Di is the founder of Di Kenyon transformations.