First days and weeks as a Leader. Guide for the Lost.

Today is the first day of your new life, life as a Leader. You’ve made up your mind, opportunity has arrived and there is only one thing left to do – to plan first day, week and month in the new role. At the beginning I promised that in all those articles we’ll be talking about truth so also in this case let’s focus on facts – first months will be difficult, a bit stressful and for sure they will cost you a few sleepless nights. But you’ll get through this and with the help of those couple tips I’ll try to make it easier for you. The key to success her is a plan, detailed and realistic plan.

One of the things that you need to think about is the first team meeting. Don’t wait too long and try to organize meeting with whole team in the first days in a new role. For sure your team members will be curious who’ll be leading them. Giving them the opportunity to know your previous experience, plan and what’s even more important to ask you some questions will be priceless. Usually such meetings are beneficial for both sides as you’ll have an opportunity to hear what people think about their job. If you’ll gain their trust you may also collect some important information about what is wrong and what are the expectations towards you. During the meeting try not to interrupt, let people speak honestly, this may be one of the few occasions that someone is really listening to what they’re saying.

Try to note every important idea or suggestion, what is really helpful is to make a summary of what have been discussed at the end of the meeting. This way you’ll be sure that you got everything right and your team members will notice that you take those matters seriously. Next step is to proactively work to make things better, you need to show that you do care and there are real actions made after meetings like this one.

Other thing it to schedule individual meetings with your employees. This step depends on the size of your team but for sure you should have such meetings scheduled with your direct subordinates. Benefits related to this form of contact with your team members are undeniable. Things like building positive relationship, providing feedback or keep people informed about short and long-term goals can be best performed during those meetings.

Now when you’ve scheduled all required meetings, you need to start getting familiar with the process that you’ll be responsible for and of course with all your duties. In case if you start doing something completely new there is one golden rule which should help you. To be honest, if the new position is somehow similar to the one of your previous jobs it will be easier, but this rule will also apply here. The rule is: Always make notes!

It might sound simple, and probably we’re not making significant scientific discovery but believe me, many people do this mistake. Of course, you may be able to remember all the details connected with your new duties (I do not deny that there are such people) but let’s approach this realistically – your life will be more difficult without proper notes. During first weeks there will be too many details related to company policy, procedures and new people, to remember them all on required level. Let’s not also forget about stress, which wont be help you to remember everything. Make your life easier and for each meeting and training take a laptop or notebook with you. Believe me that from a time perspective you will not regret this.  

Be prepared that you’ll be making mistakes, what’s more important- you’re allowed to do them. You’re new in the role and considering that first weeks will be spent on trainings and introduction to the new role, things like this may happen. The key to approach this in a right way is to be honest with your superiors about the issues that appeared and also to be proactive in resolving them. If you’ll also prepare some ideas on how to avoid those mistakes in the future I think that skilled Manager or Director will understand the situation and what’s even more, will guide you with some helpful tips.

Last advice is to prepare detailed plan with goals for you and your team for upcoming months. Try not to do this before you’ll get familiar with full knowledge about the processes that you’re responsible for. Once this will be done you can share the plan with your Team, show them that you know what course this ship will take. I think that it would be also a good idea to ask for a feedback, as mentioned before it’s crucial not to underestimate the voice of your Team. If you’ll be there for them, they will always help you.

Is there a management Bible?

For those of you who start a fantastic journey in the Team Management world I have a good news – There is a Bible or maybe let’s call it a leadership guide. In my humble opinion this book is a great collection of knowledge and advice helpful for a fresh Leader during first months in the new role.

“Managing People. A Practical Guide for Line Managers” written by Michael Armstrong was the first book that one of my Professors recommended to me during my postgraduate studies. After a couple years since I bought it I must admit that it’s really helpful to come back to this book on regular basis, especially when some unusual situation happens.

What are the information that you may find helpful?

  • First of all the process of motivating employees. I think that we need to be aware of how important this part of of our job is. How positive motivation can help us in building strong and stable team and mostly how this affects people engagement and morale.
  • Second thing worth reading is recruitment process and how interview should look like. Another good example of how short conversation can influence your future results. This part will explain how important it is to be well prepared Recruiter and how the meeting should be lead. Believe me that for most of the Leaders this part should be regularly refreshed. Even from my friends I hear lots of stories about how not prepared recruiter discouraged them from choosing the company.
  • Last part that I really enjoyed was a chapter about manager’s responsibility for people development. I’ve already mentioned this in my previous post but this is the top priority on the list of things that you need to take care of. People will expect that you’ll support them in their growth and make everything that’s possible to open right doors for them. In this part author is also showing us how to manage training programs and how to analyse the results.
  • Other than that we can find information about delegating tasks, results management and one of the most difficult part – salaries management.

There are many books on the market that can help you on the first stage of you leadership career, this one was a huge help for me, therefore I thought that it would be good to share it. If you know any other titles that can be recommended feel free to use comment section.