Turn Setbacks into Setups

First Day on the Job: 4 Tips for Leaders When Addressing a New Team

January 12, 2019

So, you’ve made it! You’re a new manager.


Maybe it’s your first time in a leadership role of any kind, or maybe you’re old-hat but still new to this role and this company. Either way, setting a positive (but assertive) first impression on your new team is essential. This first impression establishes dominance, acceptance, trust, and respect that you’ll continue building during your tenure at the company.


But if you’re feeling a little out of your depths, here are four things you’ll need to keep in mind before meeting and addressing your new team for the first time.


Get an attitude adjustment.


When you’re going into your first meeting, remember that your mission should be to build trust and respect with your new teammates—not to assert your authority and share your new vision. Think of it this way: your primary goal right now is to help the company by cultivating an environment where your new team can do its best work. And to do that, you need to earn that team’s trust, which won’t happen if you declare your plans for change right out of the gate.


As the new boss, you’re unfamiliar to your team—who might be a little skeptical of you. Your new plans will seem arrogant until you’ve earned their trust. And how do you build trust? Make an impression and show you’re ready to learn. It’s important to share your intention to help, but there’s plenty of time for that in the coming weeks. For right now, a little humility goes a long way.


Get to know your team.


As quick introductions are made, it might be easy to overlook this step, but it’s especially important for you to start getting to know your team personally. Make eye contact, remember and repeat names, and shake each person’s hands enthusiastically. Depending on the environment, you might even want to ask a few get-to-know-you questions, or probing questions to hear about any concerns on their mind. This can be especially important if you’re trying to make an impression in high-stress work situations, where a little friendliness and appropriate humor goes a long way.


Get involved.


Again, make sure people know you’re here to learn and observe in your new workplace, but don’t be afraid to assert yourself in the course of your own learning. Can you observe any scheduled meetings? Can you sit down with your team members individually in the future, to get their one-on-one perspectives? Essentially, you should be willing to reach out and take on responsibility, and willing to be vulnerable and admit you don’t have all the answers right away.


Get ready to listen.


Over the course of your first meeting—and the rest of your tenure—you’ll need to be a great listener. Right off the bat, it’s important to make an impression by asking questions and making eye contact. Don’t forget to also show active listening by mirroring body language and asking appropriate follow-up questions.


You’re bound to hear plenty of ideas and feedback, as well as complaints and concerns, but make sure to keep your responses positive and constructive. It’s tempting to dive into problem-solving right away, but your goal for your first days isn’t to fix everything. Instead, your goal is to make an impression by showing that you appreciate what they’re saying, and that you value the importance of their ideas.


As you meet and establish dominance and trust with your new team, remember that this is the time to jump right in to learn all you can, and to show that you’re willing to get to know your team and work alongside them to reach your mutual goals. Don’t worry if you can’t or don’t know how to do everything right off the bat: showing intention is what counts here. Go forward, create goals with your team, and start learning to lead them one step at a time.

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