New Manager Survival Guide: 4 Things To Do In Your First Month

by Ben Richardson
18th September 2019    
Image Of A Calendar Showing A Month

Learning to manage people is a big job and takes a long time. Line management is a learned skill.

We have previously covered what you should be thinking about on your first day,  during your first week and how to run performance reviews.

Let’s now take a look at where you should be focusing once you get over those very early days.

 

DRESS FOR SUCCESS

You are now in the spotlight far more than you ever were previously.

Whether you like it or not your team will be watching how you act and dress.

You are a leader and a representative for your team in the wider organisation.

If you are not naturally a ‘sharp’ dresser you need to think about this and probably make some changes.

Look at your wardrobe objectively, or better yet ask a friend to advise you, and decide if your wardrobe fits the bill. If not you need to start making some changes.

This isn’t a change that has to happen overnight but is something that you need to get on with.

Although this is substance over form, it is important. Many people use the old saying ‘Clothes maketh the man’. We wouldn’t go that far but you need to put this up there as a priority and take action.

 

PUBLICALLY PRAISE BEHAVIOURS YOU WANT TO ENCOURAGE

As time passes and you and your team start to settle in you’ll start to get a feel for them.

Now is the time to start publically showing people what is expected and what you want to encourage.

If someone goes the extra mile for a customer or works particularly hard on a project make sure to publically praise this. Your team will be watching and take note that that is what gets praised by you.

It doesn’t matter how this is done so long as it is done publically. That way your will team know that you’ve taken some time to publically highlight this particular behaviour.

The flip side of this is to make sure that you remember the old maxim of ‘praise in public, criticize in private’.

If you have a problem with someone’s performance or behaviour you must communicate this to them clearly but be sure to do it in private. Publically criticizing them isn’t going to lead to a productive useful conversation it will only serve to embarrass the person.

At a minimum, you will have lost the goodwill of one of your team for no benefit.

Far worse though is the message that this sends to your team. You have told them that you are not a manager to go to if things are going wrong as they will be publically criticised.

 

LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS

It is likely that you will find the first few months (as a minimum) of your new job very stressful.

Expect this and learn to manage it. A stressed manager is not a good manager.

Management requires patience, judgement and the ability to see the long term implications, not snap decisions and short term thinking. If your team starts to see you as arbitrary and stressed you will begin to lose their trust and your ability to influence them without giving direct orders.

If you don’t have a way of managing your stress then start looking at ways to do this. Everyone is different but everyone has something that helps them leave behind the stresses of the day whether it is yoga, running, cooking or something else completely. There are lots of different ways to manage stress.

If you already have an activity or hobby that you find very helpful for managing your stress make sure that you don’t drop it.

It would be natural for the increased workload and responsibility you’re facing to mean that you no longer make time for whatever it is. Avoid this as much as you can.

Time spent managing your stress is productive time just as much as time sitting in front of your computer.

 

ESTABLISHING GOALS

Towards the end of your first month, you should begin to have a clear view on what your team’s key priorities should be.

If your view matches your predecessor’s count yourself lucky, this is pretty rare.

Much more likely is that you’ll want to adjust some of your team’s goals. It’s unlikely you’ll want to start making wholesale changes unless your predecessor made some big mistakes, but it is likely that you will want to make some changes.

Now that you understand how your team works it is time to start changing some of the goals.

Setting goals requires some thought. There are lots of really good frameworks to help with that so have a look and see which one works best for you.

The framework that we recommend most people use to start with is SMART.

  • Specific: Is the goal well-defined, clear, and unambiguous?
  • Measurable: What numbers or criteria will you use to measure progress towards the goal?
  • Achievable: Is the goal possible to achieve provided things go well?
  • Realistic: Given the time and resources available is it sensible to think the goal is possible?
  • Timely: Does the goal have a clearly defined start and end date? This will create a sense of urgency and ensure that you have a clear review date for the goal.

 

As you can see as a new manager you are going to be busy. Don’t worry this is a transition that millions of people have made. If you stick at it you’ll soon master the skills of being a manager.

FURTHER READING

Clothes Make The Man Literally

Criticise In Private