On Friday, January 20, 2017, the United States saw another peaceful transition of power between former President Barack Obama and newly-elected President Donald Trump. Whether you’re stepping into the role of President of the United States or just taking over as a new team manager, your role as a new leader will be defined in the first few months of your new job. Starting off on the right foot isn’t difficult, but it does require you do a few key things. These are our suggestions for the top five things new leaders should do to be successful:
1. Get to Know Each Other
This is one of the most important things a new leader must do within the first few weeks of taking the job. When you prioritize getting to know your team and allowing them to get to know you, you create a more unified team. Don’t worry about jumping right into problem-solver mode or get-the-work-done mode. Instead, take a long lunch and ask questions about their lives and their roles.
Setting up one-on-one meetings is a vital part of getting to know your team. Find out what they like about their jobs, what roadblocks they struggle with (spoiler alert: this comes in handy for #4) and what they want their futures to look like. These initial interactions are a great opportunity to learn about them both personally and professionally, while showcasing what you stand for as a leader. In doing so, you’ll start to build lasting relationships that foster trust.
2. Debrief with Other Execs in the Department or at the Company
Finding out what the other departments are working on, struggling with, or excited about is not only a way to connect with them, but also to get informed about what’s happening outside of your team. This will make you a stronger leader within the company as a whole and your department will welcome that. Being knowledgeable about things outside of your department might also give you more clout down the road.
You always want the lines of communication to be open, even with other teams. You never know when you might need another department’s help, so you first impression is important. It’s also beneficial to build relationships with other executives because they’ve been where you are and can offer valuable advice.
3. Set Goals
Setting goals is crucial as a new leader. And we’re not just talking about project goals or goals for the team as a whole. You should use the one-on-one meetings mentioned above to set personal goals for your team. If they set goals with their previous manager, revisit them and don’t be afraid to change a couple of them to align with your vision for the team. Trust us, your team wants to know where your head is and what you’re looking for. They’ll work better when they have something to work toward and when they understand how you’ll define success.
4. Show Success Early
Look for a roadblock or a problem—some low-hanging fruit, if you will—that can be solved relatively quickly and without too much change. Remember, changing too much too soon can be detrimental to the team. You want them to trust you first. Showing your team that you’re ready to be a problem solver and help make their lives easier is a great way to build trust. Early wins make a big impact because they show you listen, get things done and care about the team’s success.
This might seem like a bad idea. Are you going to come off as a micro-manager? Maybe, but your team will appreciate the transparency and you’ll feel more looped in. Your first few months in the new position are all about getting your head wrapped around the team, the projects, and the processes so that you can make well-informed decisions. Over-communicating just means your team will be fully informed and won’t have any concerns about hidden agendas or your lack of knowledge.
It’s pretty simple to ensure a good start to your new position. Just remember to build relationships, listen and learn. Want more leadership advice? Check out our leadership resource center.