Before you even speak your first words as a manager, people are making first impressions about you. They are thinking about whether or not you’re qualified for the job, whether they will like working with you, and even how successful you’ll be at leading the team. According to Princeton researchers, people decide your trustworthiness in a tenth of a second. A TENTH OF A SECOND. This means all of the actions you take or do not take during your first week on the job can create long-term consequences, ultimately determining your success as a leader. If you want to manage the first impression to get off on the right foot with your team, try these five tips.
- Introduce yourself to your team, department, and other key colleagues. If possible, introduce yourself face-to-face or make a video introduction. Do not assume people will feel comfortable introducing themselves to you first, especially if you are in a higher-level position than they are. Avoid learning all of the responsibilities and waiting for the introductions until the end of the week. This can send a signal that your team is not a priority for you, which can create distance before you have even had the chance to work with them.
- Ask to be an observer in meetings. You were likely hired because the employer found value in you that could aid in the role. However, your first week is not the time you need to show everyone how great, smart, or successful you are. Your first week, and arguably weeks after, are a time for you to learn about the organization and how it operates, which means withholding judgment and opinions until you have a full understanding of the big picture. If you speak too soon, you risk offending people, which can create an instant divide in the relationship.
- Identify needed training for key tasks, processes, and responsibilities. Nothing is worse for employees than reporting to a boss who has no idea what they do. When you don’t understand what your direct reports do, you will have leadership blind spots, meaning you are unable to see the full picture. For example, if a particular process takes 30 hours, but you assume it’s less because you have never done it, you might delegate projects or assign more work than can be reasonably expected. Whether you are going to perform the job or not, it is important to understand what it is your team is supposed to do.
- Set up one-on-one meetings with direct reports. Utilize these one-on-one meetings as an opportunity to get to know them and for them to get to know you. Ask questions like, “How do you like to be recognized?” or “How do you like to receive feedback?” Try to avoid getting into any personal issues since a strong foundation of trust has not yet established. If possible, avoid using this time to “push” all of your rules and expectations at them. Listen first, and then develop a plan of action for follow-up meetings.
- Show your team you value their voice off the bat by creating a fresh-perspective list. The fresh-perspective list is simple. It is a list of all of the ideas people have for how the team could change for the better. Doing this transforms the conversation from airing grievances to thinking about how you and the team can work together to make work better for everyone. The fresh-perspective list could cover ideas for updating processes or procedures, a change to a product, or a new idea. Bonus — this also helps give insight into the struggles and desires of your team.