The 3 Things You Should Be Doing Your First 30 Days As A New Manager
You're a new manager... what's your plan for the first 30 Days? Or maybe you are supporting a new manager. How have you set them up for success?
Too often we treat the shift into a leadership role as an "art form"... as something people should either know how to do ("that's why I hired them") or can easily adapt to. Although some of us have experienced a "seasoned" manager enter a new situation and improve a situation, the overall statistics don't point to this as the norm.
Too much is at stake to be lax about this. The success of your new manager, your teams, your customer's experience, and your potential future successor ride on having a strong foundation to develop new leaders.
There are going to be a number of organization specific on-boarding items to complete your first 30 days: Getting to know the policies and procedures, attending required meetings, setting up 1:1's with your staff, completing orientation, addressing any stop-gap issues, etc. I'm not talking about these. I'm talking about YOUR PLAN to establish YOUR MANAGEMENT... YOUR ROLE AS MANAGER.
A role is always made up of 4 components:
1. Position- What position do I occupy in a group, department or function in an operation or company?
2. Purpose- What is the purpose of my group, department, function, or operation?
3. Process- What processes are we responsible for that are part of the operation or business?
4. Performance- What performance does the business require you and your processes contribute to it's overall performance?
Most of us crash & burn as managers because we have a fuzzy notion of our group's purpose, our processes AND major issues are invisible (but dealing with the issues suck up most of our time), and our performance has either unclear expectations or metrics we can't influence.
Managers need to learn how to lead effectively and be provided opportunities to grow over time. BUT from day one they deserve foundational structures to LEAD FROM.
Here are three things to build a plan around for the first 30 days that will create the foundation... the framework to lead from for your new managers.
#1. Assess the Pains. New managers need to be given a method to learn the BIGGEST pain-points they will need to address. These pain-points will live in three domains: Pain their team experiences, their boss deals with, and limits their own growth. Have new managers set up time to observe the work, interview their team, do the work, and capture pains.
DON'T go out there and try to capture everything. You're not solving for world peace.
DO ask and record the answers (or observe for) these 4 questions:
What are the biggest pain-points to do your best work?
What impact do these pains create for you? Others?
How should things operate?
What difference would it make for your work life if things did operate this way?
You will see patterns emerge. You have 3 jobs here. Understand the pain, clarify what is in your realm to address, and distinguish which are the 1-3 most important things to address in your next 30 days.
#2. Assess the Culture. What are the unwritten rules that the team operates from. How does that impact how people approach their work? This is huge because it sets a manager up to declare the culture they want.
DON'T ask people what the culture is like. There will be a disconnect between what they say and what they do.
DO define the culture you believe should be in place to achieve the level of performance and/or engagement you see possible. Describe it in 1-2 sentences. Also, define 2-5 ways your team would live that culture (actual behaviors you would see them exhibit).
Now you're ready to observe with intention. You can more easily see what behaviors and practices are currently contributing to your performance and what is missing. You can even score the current state using a simple scale to assess whether the behavior exists, how frequently and at what scale.
In your next 30 days, you will work with your team to align on a future vision for your team's culture, but it starts by you having a preliminary vision and playing architect.
#3. Assess your People. Who is likely to support the culture you want to drive? Knowing your early adopters and influencers will help you understand who best to leverage change.
DON'T be quick to judge based on personalities or attitude. It's a trap and it doesn't tell you what you need to know about driving culture and introducing change.
DO modify a tool like the Adoption Curve to and assess where your team-members fall per each category as it relates to changing the culture and addressing the pains. For example you could modify it to Actively Engaged, Engaged, Not Engaged, Actively Disengaged (toxic).
Understanding your starting point will help you think through how fast and at what scale to introduce change. You won't want to waste your time trying to convince folks who are Actively Disengaged (laggards). You will want to tap into the informal leadership of Actively Engaged team members (early adopters) and will want to understand the biggest pains of your Engaged/Not Engaged folks.
When you put all 3 elements together, you really have a concise and comprehensive picture of your team. You have learned how to diagnose a team, which you will do over and over again as a leader. You have created a framework to establish yourself as Manager. And it sets you up for your next steps.
Your 30-90 day plan, I believe, should be focused on Developing Systems. You're building on what you assessed during your first 30 days. Your job won't be to come and fix things. Your job will be to establish systems to see & alleviate pains, see & move performance, and plan & progress your growth.
Exceptional leadership often stems from people having foundational systems to lead from. Let's give them that.