7 Things Every New Manager Should Do In Their First Month on the Job

December 19, 2016

New managers should do these seven things to survive their first week on the job.

Becoming a new manager should be a great time in a person’s life. They’ve worked hard to advance their career and were rewarded with a leadership position they desired.

And yet they might not always feel like celebrating. Copious research has found that becoming a new manager is one of the most stressful experiences any professional goes through.

That’s particularly true for the first month on the job, where most new managers do their best just to keep their head above water. To help, we looked at leadership guru’s Todd Dewett’s LinkedIn Learning course, New Manager Foundations, to discover the things all new managers should do within their first 30 days.

They are:

1. Start dressing like a leader

The reality is, if you don’t dress like a leader, it’s only going to hamper your ability to lead.

So how does a leader dress?

It varies from organization to organization. Look around and see how other leaders dress at your organization and follow suit, Dewett said.

Quick word of advice – don’t dramatically change the way you dress overnight, as that’s going to be seen as inauthentic (this rule mostly applies if you’ve been promoted from within the same organization), Dewett said. Instead, slowly move closer to the organization’s norm.

2. Develop professional relationships with your staff, not friendships

Your goal as a boss should not be to make friends with your employees. The reason is friendships often prevent tough feedback and there’s no performance component to a friendship, whereas performance is your biggest concern as a new manager.

Instead, you want to form strong professional relationships with your employees, Dewett said. That’s not to say there should be no personal aspect to your relationship – in fact, there should be. It’s just a matter of proportion, as the vast majority of your conversations with your direct reports should be about work.

So yes, be friendly with your employees and get to know them on a personal level. But the majority of your conversation should be about work and the relationship should ultimately be a professional one.

3. Stay visible

Woody Allen once said that 80 percent of success comes down to just showing up. There’s a degree to truth to that for managers – being visible with your team is incredibly important, as the more visible you are, the more connected people will feel to you, Dewett said.

In that vein, try to spend 5 to 10 percent of your day informally chatting to your employees, instead of just communicating in meetings or being tucked away in your office. That will go a long way to building strong relationships with your people.

4. Clarify expectations with your boss

One oft-forgotten part of becoming a new boss is that you likely have a new boss as well. And while there’s a lot of focus on clarifying expectations with your employees, it’s equally important to clarify expectations with your new boss as well.

That means understanding your boss’s priorities and their main goals beyond the performance of your team, Dewett said. Additionally, it means talking to your boss about any changes that need to be made for you to succeed – such as more people or different tools, as an example.

5. Set expectations and establish group norms with your team

Once you understand what your boss’s goals are, it’s time to clarify expectations with your team and establish group norms.

First, clarify expectations by acknowledging the accomplishments of the past while also sharing the goals for the next performance period, as well as your long-term goals for the team, Dewett said. The next step is then meeting with each of your direct reports one-on-one and establishing their specific goals.

It’s also important to establish norms with the team, Dewett said. Norms are guiding behaviors for how you and your team should act, and should be written down and sent to all members of your team.

What are some examples of norms? Everyone showing up on time for meetings, everyone being prepared for each meeting, everyone treating each other with respect, etc. And then ensure those norms are enforced, perhaps in a fun way. For example, perhaps every time a person is late, they have to contribute a dollar to the team’s coffee fund.

6. Schedule time away from work for your friends and family

Research shows new managers invariably work more hours than they are used to and often feel large amounts of stress. For that reason, it’s important to literally schedule time away from work with your friends and family, or else those relationships could become strained, Dewett said.

Unfortunately, becoming a new manager will mean less free time. But, the key is working to make that time as high quality as possible, by allowing yourself to shut off from work and enjoying the free moments you do have.

7. Learn, learn and learn some more

While you might have been a very skilled individual contributor, new managers are by definition inexperienced in management, and therefore need to learn new skills. The faster you can learn these skills, the quicker you’ll become an effective manager and ultimately the less stress you’ll feel.

Therefore, it’s critical to find time to learn when you become a new manager, Dewett said. That means reading articles, watching eLearning videos, seeking advice from more experienced managers and taking advantage of in-person management training, when available. 

Additionally, as a new manager you need to better understand your own business and how teams interact with each other, Dewett said. To accomplish this, work to grow your professional network within the organization and learn your company’s processes and priorities, he said.

Doing these seven things won’t completely relieve you of stress, becoming a new manager is difficult. But they certainly will help.

Want to learn more? Watch Todd Dewett’s New Manager Foundations course today.

Some other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are:

Topics