When taking on a new leadership position within an organization, it's critical to start on the right foot. This is particularly important in a world where most of us are working and leading remotely. In order to move from being a liability for the organization to being an asset, you need to establish credibility, humility and trust as early as possible. Knowing how to spend your first few days and weeks can ensure that you get buy-in from your team, conquer a few early wins and start to establish your communication style.
Although there are a number of great books that can help walk you through the first 90 or 100 days of your new role (we really like The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan but there are several good ones out there), we've boiled the task list down to three things:
Serve, structure and strategize.
Above all else, you want to demonstrate to your team that you are here to help make their jobs easier and more productive. We recommend that this be a major focus for the first couple of weeks. Serve those around you by having an initial 1:1 chat with each team member to ask them what they love about their job, what they find frustrating and how they hope you can help.
You'll want to use active listening skills to highlight if someone could use a hand getting a project out the door or solving a time sensitive problem. Or perhaps they just want an opportunity to be heard.
This is not the time to demonstrate how many degrees you have, what books you've read, or what you know. It's time to focus solely on them.
“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care”
~ Theodore Roosevelt
Once you've demonstrated to your team that their needs will be acknowledged and supported, you can move on to structure how you will ensure on-going communication with the department.
Here are a few basic best practices that we see at this stage:
Once you've formally dedicated at least 40% of your time to communication and engagement with your team members, you're ready to start making decisions and charting a path forward.
Now that you have 45-60 days under your belt, you can identify the top priorities for you and your department and look at what the future holds.
This is likely the only time in your tenure in this role that you’ll be able to look at things from an outsider’s perspective. Building or tweaking strategies can be done using the following approach:
Three simple steps to making sure you have an immediate impact on both your team and your organization!
The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results (2011)
George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, Jorge E. Pedraza