When you find yourself stepping in to manage a new team it can be filled with excitement, possibility, uncertainty, and maybe a bit of terror. It may bring back feelings of being the new kid in class. Everyone knows each other, their personalities, and has a built-in level of trust from working together. You’re the new one coming into the established group, and you’re the one they will be taking direction from.
The famous quote “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” could not be more true for your first meeting with employees as a new manager. It is your opportunity to set the stage of what it will be like to work under your leadership. With preparation, focus, and intentionality, you can ace your first meeting with staff as their new manager. Here are 5 ways to win over your new team.
1. Come Prepared
Preparation is the foundation to the success of your first meeting with employees. As Michael Watkins, the author of The First 90 Days said, “People form opinions pretty quickly, and these opinions tend to be sticky.”
Undoubtedly, you will be nervous about this meeting as the stakes are high. Preparation helps shift your internal dialogue from nervous energy to one of the excitement of starting a new journey because you feel prepared. Taking the time to prepare allows you to be in the moment, speak with clarity, and exude an aura of confidence.
So, how can you prepare?
- Find out who will be at the meeting. Memorize their names, titles, roles, and functions on the team. Tie a face to a name by looking them up in the organizational directory or on LinkedIn.
- Research the team. Meet with your leader and peers to understand the team culture and dynamics. Ask about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, behavioral challenges, or conflicts that you should be aware of.
- Dress the part. An easy way to look like part of the team is to dress for the culture. Find out how others dress and skip the suit if everyone wears jeans.
- New to the company? Review the organization’s website to understand its history, mission, vision, values, brand positioning, product offering, recent articles, and news releases. If you’re new to the industry, take it one step further by developing a better understanding of the company’s direct competitors.
2. set an example
Small things such as arriving early, ensuring the room is ready for the team meeting, and greeting each team member as they enter can go a long way to establish a positive working relationship. Individuals take cues from their leaders to understand acceptable behaviors. Ensure your behaviors mirror the behaviors you expect from your team by:
- Arriving on-time
- Keeping your phone off and away
- Actively listening when others are speaking
- Being courteous and polite
- Having an optimistic and enthusiastic attitude
3. Help them get to know you personally and professionally
When the time comes in your first meeting with employees as a new manager to introduce yourself there are a few ways to make a great impression. In your introduction, discuss what motivates you and drives you to get out of bed in the morning. By going deeper than reciting your resume, your team will get a window into what makes you tick; in other words, the real you. By sharing more than your accomplishments you are already starting to plant the seeds of trust. In your introduction share:
- Your personal team leadership philosophy
- What you stand for; your core values and beliefs
- Your team vision or approach to collaboration
- Your working and communication style
- A quick success story from your previous experience
- What you like to do in your spare time
Close your introduction by showing humility. Make it clear you’re in learning mode and what you plan to do over the coming weeks to learn more about the organization, team, and each individual who will now be your direct report. Showing humility builds trust with employees.
The golden rule for your introduction is to keep your introduction short. No one likes the person at the party who monopolizes the conversation to tell you how great they are. You want your first meeting with staff to be a shared experience.
4. Plan questions ahead of time
The bulk of the time during your first meeting with employees as a new manager should be dedicated to discovery. Come prepared with questions that uncover how the team is currently operating, what roadblocks they’re running into, and any opportunities that are not currently being pursued but should be. Ensure the conversation is inclusive of all team members by stopping anyone who is taking over the conversation and calling on others who have not had a chance to speak.
Here are a few new manager questions to ask employees:
Show your intention to help
- What can I do to make you more successful as a team?
Get insight into what is and isn’t working
- What activities do we need to start, stop, or continue doing as a team?
Discover the team’s aspirations
- Are there any projects you’d like to work on as a team if you were given the opportunity?
Gauge the level of collaboration and teamwork
- What do we do really well as a team and where could we improve? If your team is struggling to come up with answers, use these examples such as communicating clearly, stepping up when others need help, following through on team and individual accountabilities, focusing on completing the team mission, or seeking out alternative perspectives.
5. close strong
A strong conclusion to the meeting is important as it is your final chance to reiterate why you are excited to be joining the team and what you have planned in the weeks to follow. Your closing is the part your team is most likely to remember when they go back to their job. Make sure your closing includes:
- Reinforcement of your optimism for what is possible together and how you will be learning from them
- Expectations for the cadence of team meetings and one-on-one meetings going forward
- Any items that arose during the meeting that need to be addressed and a timeline for when you will get back to the team
conclusion: Don’t stress your first meeting with employees as a new manager
Starting on a new team is never easy, especially when you’re the boss. But with some research and preparation, you can set yourself up to make a great first impression. Remember, this is the first of many times your leadership skills will come into play. If you’re feeling your people management skills could use a tune-up, seek out opportunities for leadership training and one-on-one coaching. By taking the time to invest in yourself, you are taking strides to become the leader your team can and does look up to.
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