Your Honeymoon Activities as a New Manager

While much attention has been given to helping new employees fit in and do well (onboarding programs, new employee orientation, etc) there is also advice for the unique challenge of new managers. If you are entering into an organization as a manager, you will be gifted with a “honeymoon.” This is the initial period during which you can ask for and about things that will be harder to do after about three months have passed. By then, people will expect to know your management style and have minimal surprises in terms of how you act and react to things.

As an example of how new managers can make the most of this crucial window of opportunity, consider how Jeff addressed these six questions with his staff during the first 10 weeks as an IT department manager in an engineering firm.

1. What does your staff want to know about you?
Besides “everything,” Jeff’s team wanted to know about how he managed his time. They experienced tense times with the previous boss who was usually late on most things. This lowered expectation of management came out in a Q and A session that Jeff wisely had his HR professional conduct. People could ask questions directly of Jeff or submit anonymous questions that the HR person read out loud at the meeting as Jeff answered each one.

2. What do you want to convey about your style (that they won’t ask)?
Do you have a pet peeve – a hot button that really matters to you? This new manager put a very high value on meeting attendance and prompt start and end times. No one asked him about such matters so it was extremely important for Jeff to state key aspects of his style that will characterize his interactions and decisions.

3. What are critical business issues in your opinion?
As an incoming manager, your supervisor will probably let you know about some critical business issues that are a problem for your team. Jeff’s boss told him that his team had systems implementation times that were much slower than industry standard. That was a landmine that needed defusing early on and Jeff was open with his team about this right away.

4. What are your priorities as the leader?
Every manager will assess the landscape during the first weeks in the leadership role. It’s important to be forthcoming about personal and enterprise priorities that emerge. There’s no surer way to develop fear and loathing in a team than to have a manager who harbors a private agenda of priorities or concerns that are revealed only when some staff member is caught violating one of the priorities.

5. What are the team’s current priorities and things they think they should stop or start doing?
True leaders trust their team to have frontline insights into what really matters for operating effectively. Jeff started by asking people individually for their perspective on these matters. Once they were all familiar with his genuine interest in their priorities and perspectives he started to publicly solicit their comments in open meetings, thereby empowering what employees offer to the team and the organization at-large.

6. How is the department perceived by senior management? Peer organizations within the company?
Jeff’s IT team members knew who their fans were and which departments or managers were their detractors. This was valuable intel that Jeff gathered in private conversations (to prevent finger pointing in a group setting) over the first five weeks. He was better able to prioritize his time to mend weak relationships with key managers and their teams of internal customers that needed some TLC from IT.

Addressing these six issues will help a new manager go deeper and further with the new team, and ideally outlast the typical honeymoon. Even so, just as new couples can benefit from seeing a marriage counselor, if the going gets rough, it may timely for a new manager to consult an executive coach to obtain crucial support for navigating the complexities of stepping into a new leadership role and becoming effective in a new organization.

**Image above courtesy of Pixabay (no attribution required).

BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions:

1. When is it time to move up?
2. When is it time to move out?
3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?

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