Christoph Niewerth of Hays gives his top tips for hitting the ground running as a newly appointed manager.
Have you recently accepted a new role in a senior position? Having to oversee, direct and motivate a team on top of managing your own responsibilities and objectives can be a challenge, especially if it’s your first time managing others.
I’ve mentored a few newly appointed managers in my time and, through working with them, I’ve realised that there are always a few quick wins you can implement upon assuming your new role to make you an instant hit.
Here are five tips that I’ve identified.
1. Give yourself a head start
It’s important that you’re not flying the plane while learning how to fly. Try and facilitate a one or two-week gap between your old and new jobs in order to give you some breathing space to think about your approach and objectives. Our CEO Alistair Cox said in his My First 90 Days LinkedIn blog: “If there’s one piece of advice I could give you – start planning how you are going to make your presence count well before you arrive.”
If you’re being promoted within your existing company, then you should already have a good understanding of the business and what is required of you within the new role.
“As an internal candidate, the processes will be much the same, but you will have a much greater knowledge of the organisation. This means you should be in a position to start making an effective, yet considered, impact even earlier,” Cox said.
Use this time to also do your research on the company, and even the individuals that you’ll be responsible for. Not only will this make your job a lot easier upon arrival, but it will also garner you the immediate respect of your colleagues.
2. Don’t compare yourself to your predecessor
Entering into a position of seniority within a business, in which you’re entrusted with the responsibility of leading a team, is enough of a challenge itself. Doing all of this while comparing yourself to your predecessor makes the process twice as hard.
Differentiate yourself from your predecessor early on in your role, but not in so drastic a way as to make yourself instantly unpopular with the team. Make it clear that you’re not planning to add your own value and advance the business beyond what has already been achieved.
Never outwardly reject your predecessor’s approach or belittle what they achieved; they might still have close allies within your team. Make sure that you’ve prepared yourself for all ranges of reactions – change can be difficult for some people. Having a supportive figure or two who are familiar with the business to support you with your transition period can make the world of difference. These associates can help you to communicate your vision to the wider team.
3. Focus on success first, popularity second
It can be tempting when assuming a new role as manager to first make yourself popular with your team, gaining their approval on every small decision that you make. However, this is a time-consuming process and there is no guarantee that your team is going to appreciate you for it – they may even bemoan your lack of strong leadership.
Rather than spending the entirety of your crucial, early period trying to assuage and please individual members, concentrate the bulk of your energy and focus on accomplishing objectives.
It’s by confidently completing your objectives that you’ll receive the respect and admiration of your team, which you need to sustain your long-term success. Loyalty, trust and respect are all offshoots of strong leadership.
This is not to say that you should ignore your team, or not confer with them at all. Rather, identify who will be useful in helping you implement change and then surround yourself with an inner team of these employees. They will help to reaffirm your objectives and goals, encouraging others to get behind the path you are laying out for them, while also dispersing your wider messages and vision.
4. Speak often, but listen more
Communication is a leader’s most powerful tool – never stop communicating with your team. Once you’ve established which direction you want to take the business in – this should have been a prerequisite to you getting the job, so hopefully you’ve fleshed this out already – then share this with the team.
“As a leader, it is a key part of your role to help all your employees to see the bigger picture of what you are trying to achieve and to understand how they personally fit into achieving this vision,” Cox said in his blog. Encouraging your team to think about the bigger picture provides context, encourages loyalty and helps to build a strong team spirit; the results of which are usually seen in an increase in overall performance and productivity.
Remember, though, that communication is comprised of both talking and listening. Listening to others is especially useful in your first couple of months when you’re probably not very familiar with the set processes and objectives.
Spending individual time with your team members is crucial in the first 90 days of your new job, otherwise known as ‘the honeymoon period’.
“Remember, you are dealing with human beings who want to know what is in store. They expect you to do something that places your stamp on the business, and they are watching and interpreting your every move,” said Cox. Getting to know your team by spending time with each of them will help you to understand which management style they are best suited to, while also letting them know that they are an important part of your plans going forward.
Always treat everyone equally when communicating with your team. Avoid presumptions about who the high performers are and assume that everyone is great until proven otherwise. Collaborate, be generous with your praise and your time, and don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if you are the boss.
5. Lead from the front
As previously articulated, it’s through hard work and tangible results that you win over the support of your team. Show them how capable you are, and they will not only respect you more but will also follow your example.
You are the manager of this team – it’s your job to lead by example. This involves not just ticking tasks off the to-do list, but also doing the small things well. Be social in order to create a positive and productive atmosphere, be on time in order to encourage punctuality, dress well in order to inspire proper presentation and so on.
Never stop proving and pushing yourself. Otherwise, as soon as you drop off, your team will, too.
A final thought
When taking on a new managerial role, you need to focus first on how you can add your own value, ignoring all temptation to try and be liked by everyone or to match yourself up against your predecessor.
Become an instant hit by focusing on delivering results, in turn inspiring your team to both believe in you and raise the bar even higher. Your actions will speak louder than your words ever can.
Christoph Niewerth is a member of the Hays Germany board. A version of this article originally appeared on Hays Viewpoint.