How to survive your first day as a new team leader
Here’s the imaginary advice I’d give to Jack. Applicable for any new team leaders in Jack’s situation of course. — - Dear Jack,...
Here’s the imaginary advice I’d give to Jack.
Applicable for any new team leaders in Jack’s situation of course.
As your imaginary guide, allow me to be blunt: this is going to be tough.
If you are working in a growing company, people will have little time to guide you.
But they will still expect you to perform.
To make sure you have a smooth transition, here are some very tactical tips you can use for your first week.
DO THIS BEFORE MONDAY
First, reply to the email that was sent out to announce your promotion. Keep it short: thank the person who sent it, say you’re excited (I hope you are. If not, don’t say it in that email!) and state that you’ll reach out to some of the persons including in the email soon.
Write down the priorities for your first week: what are the 3–5 most important things you need so that you have a good start?
Some suggestions: have lunch with the key members to understand them more, have 1:1 discussions about personal ambitions and personal development plan, meet with your manager to set expectations, clarify the team priorities, etc.
Schedule all those things in advance in your calendar and invite the relevant people. Don’t make the mistake to think you can see people as you need to without scheduling it in advance. That may have worked in the past as a non-manager. It will make your life become hell as a manager.
Prepare at least 2 meetings with your own team: the first to formally announce your promotion and talk about what is coming up this week (30 min is enough), the second as a follow-up of the first one that will focus on business priorities (yes, that’s part of your new job).
(note: if you want to have a specific suggestion for the meeting agenda, drop a comment and explain your situation a bit so we can help you)
Schedule the first meeting as early as you can (preferably on the first day — i.e. Monday in this case). Schedule the second one towards the end of the week. This leaves you time to figure out the details of the second one during the week (with your manager’s input).
Prepare a list of questions you want to ask to your manager about the business priorities.
Also prepare a list of what you think the priorities are and how you propose to align the team priorities with the overall business priorities.
If you have access to the info, review your team members performance in the past.
If you don’t have access to it, make sure to get it ASAP.
If you have hiring / firing authority: get in touch with HR to introduce yourself. They will be your ally in building your team.
If you don’t know if you have such authority, don’t reach out to HR yet. Make sure you ask about authority to your manager first.
Congrats, you’ve done the heavy lifting!
After the heavy lifting comes the cardio part: on Monday, just run through your schedule.
It should somehow look like this:
* Morning: 1st team meeting, have 1:1 with a couple of team members, touch base with your manager, do some actual work
* Lunch with a key member (or catch up with your manager if you couldn’t arrange in the morning)
* Afternoon: have 1:1 with a couple of team members, do the actual work that needs to get done, have some buffer time for ad-hoc stuff
* End of day: make sure to record all your notes, adjust the schedule for the upcoming days based on what happened on Monday
A final word to keep in mind : your top priority is to build a good team that will perform at high levels.
This is not about you anymore. It’s about them.
As such, constantly ask yourself:
* Do I have the right people? Am I training them well enough? How can I build my dream team?
* How can I make the priorities and expectations clear for everyone?
* Are the right processes in place to enable the team to perform? What slows us down? Can I remove those obstacles for the team?
Good luck and let me know how your first week goes!
This is an orginal post in my group where we share resources, tools and tips to help young working professionals improve themselves and build a better career. You can join here
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