Getting a new job is an exciting time, especially when it’s a new leadership role. However, it’s also a busy time. Once you’ve completed your onboarding paperwork and updated your LinkedIn, there’s a ton of additional work to do as you transition into your new role. The first 30 days as a new manager is an important time. Managers need to work hard to make a positive first impression and build trust with their new teams during the first month.
There’s also a lot to learn beyond just the basic job duties. Managers not only need to learn how to do their jobs but they also need to gain a clear understanding of the company and the jobs of each of their direct reports. It can be a lot to take in. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to the most important things to prioritize during the first 30 days as a new manager.
Set Goals and Create a Plan
As a new manager, you’ll have a lot to learn and accomplish within the first 30 days, and even the first 90 days. It’s best to go in with a clear plan and set some goals for yourself. If you don’t have a supervisor or onboarding manager providing you with a 30-60-90 day plan, start building one for yourself.
If you’re assigned a mentor or onboarding manager, they can be a great resource for setting goals and building your roadmap for the first 30 days. It can also help to meet with your manager to clarify their expectations for the new manager role and for the progress that you should make in the first 30 days. Some leaders expect new managers to hit the ground running, while others anticipate slower ramp-ups.
Get to Know the Company
Managers play an important role in upholding the company’s values and contributing to its culture. As such, new managers need to work to get to know the company well. This includes learning about the company policies, mission, strategic goals, and communication strategies.
Familiarize Yourself With the Company’s Culture
One of the most common mistakes that new managers make in the first 30 days is diving into their new role without taking the time to learn the culture of the company and their department. Slow down, ask some questions, and do a bit of people-watching. Pay attention to how other managers interact with their teams and how team members interact with one another.
How people within the organization communicate with one another is a key aspect of a company’s culture, so pay close attention to the interactions around you. During the first 30 days, prioritize listening rather than constantly speaking. It will be a smoother transition for yourself and your new team if you make an effort to mesh your own personality and leadership approach with the established culture of the organization and team.
Read the Employee Handbook
Technically every new employee should be reading the company handbook during their first week, but many new hires skim through it fairly quickly. Managers should dedicate a bit more time to the required reading. They need to know the company policies well enough to properly model and enforce them while also acting as a resource for other employees that have questions in the future.
New managers should do a thorough review of all of the company’s key employee policies during the first 30 days and reach out to human resources or other company leadership with any questions. Knowing the policies will help new managers learn more about the company, their role as a manager in this organization, and how to best support their teams.
Review the Company’s Mission and Values
Reading the organization’s mission statement and company values is a great way to learn more about the company and its desired culture. A company’s mission statement describes the core purpose of the organization. It details what the business does and what it hopes to accomplish. This may include offering superior products, making products more accessible or affordable to customers, providing better customer service, making sustainable products, or otherwise offering something that is particularly helpful to customers or benefits others.
The company’s values are the core principles, beliefs, and values that the organization’s culture is built on. Managers have a special responsibility to familiarize themselves with these values and model them to employees. A lot of managers like to weave company values or the mission into team meetings either as reminders or by connecting current projects or tasks to the larger mission of the business.
Explore the Company’s Strategic Plan
Your new team’s goals and activities should connect to the business’s overall strategic goals. In order to properly understand those connections and drive success for your team, it is important to review the company’s strategic plan and any annual strategic goals. Review what the company hopes to achieve for the year and how the work of your new team will contribute to those goals.
Learn the Internal Processes and Technology
A large portion of the first couple weeks in any new job is typically spent learning the company and the department’s internal processes and workplace tools. There may be new software to learn, new project management processes, time-tracking procedures, and differences in the standard operating procedures for common work tasks.
Meet With Other Leaders
New managers will also want to start getting to know other leaders in the company in the first 30 days. These other managers can be excellent resources for learning more about the company and navigating internal challenges. Managers also need to work a bit harder at networking that individual contributors as they often spend most of their days with direct reports rather than peers and thus don’t get to have the same casual social interactions and work friendships that other team members get to build.
Get to Know the Team
Getting to know your new team and building trust with that team is essential during the first 30 days as a new manager. Here are some of the approaches to consider when trying to get to know your new team.
Hold an Introductory Team Meeting
Having regular team meetings is a great way to get to know everyone better and improve communication in the department. Hopefully, the prior manager was holding weekly or at least regular team meetings, but even if they weren’t it’s a good idea to introduce team meetings as part of your transition process.
Team meeting time can be split between checking in on projects and conducting team-building activities. If you’re able to, provide an agenda and invitation that matches up with the time and format of the team’s existing team meeting process. Be prepared to answer some questions from employees. As much as you need to get to know them, they need to get to know you too.
Take this as an opportunity to start building trust and initiate transparent communication. If the last manager exited unexpectedly, employees make feel a bit shaken up. Provide transparent updates to the team on what this first month will look like for them as well and encourage team members to come to you with any problems or concerns that pop up during the transition process.
One of the most important things for new managers to prioritize in the first 30 days is to individually meet with each of their direct reports. Relying solely on team meetings and day-to-day communications is a common mistake that new managers make. Group meetings and communications are one way to get to know your team and the overall culture of your department, but 1:1s are essential for getting to know each employee.
To get the most out of each meeting, new managers should review each employee’s file before meeting with them. Some of the most useful resources are past employee reviews and the employee’s quarterly or annual goals. These documents can help new managers understand the employee’s strengths, areas of improvement, career goals, and current personal goals.
During each initial one-on-one meeting, new managers have several things to accomplish. First, it’s a good opportunity to check in on what each person is working on. The new manager should inquire about ongoing projects or initiatives and review the recurring duties of each team member. In addition, it’s a good time to check in with each team member about their goals and concerns. It’s normal for employees to feel uneasy during periods of change, so use this meeting to listen to their concerns, address any fears, and discuss what things will look like moving forward.
Learn the Job
Like with any job, the first month of a new role involves a lot of training to help you learn the job.
Complete Required Job Training
In some cases, new managers may be able to receive some on-the-job training or guidance from the outgoing manager. In others, there may be another trainer assigned to help you acclimate to your new job duties. Take your time with any assigned on-the-job training, orientations, or e-learning opportunities. Managers need to be very knowledgeable about the company’s internal offerings as well as their products or services, so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
One thing that can help you down the road is to go through the training and try to look at it from an entry-level employee’s perspective. What questions would they ask? If you wouldn’t know how to fully answer them, ask your trainer the question. As a manager, you not only need to understand the processes or concepts but should also be prepared to teach them to employees later on. If you aren’t sure how you’d properly articulate something, ask and see how the trainer explains it.
Review Prior Meeting Minutes
If your new team or the leadership team takes meeting minutes or records their meetings, new managers should take the time to review the last one to learn how to lead or participate in them. See what the current priorities and initiatives are. This is a great way to see where to prior manager left off and get a feel for how the meetings usually go so that you can run them in a way that feels familiar to the existing team. In the absence of meeting minutes or notes, look for past agendas or a list of pending action items. If the team is remote or hybrid, check if the prior manager recorded the meetings on Zoom or Teams.
Develop Your Leadership Skills
Both first-time managers and experienced managers should take some time to think about their leadership styles during the first 30 days in a new role. A new job is a great time to reevaluate the type of leader that you want to be and what leadership skills you may need to work on. Don’t feel like you need to fully adopt the leadership style of the previous manager or other leaders within the organization, but do try to adapt some of your approaches to better fit the new organization’s culture.
A new manager role is also a great time to evaluate your current leadership skills and look into leadership training opportunities. Your new organization may offer leadership training or some form of e-learning or continuing education stipend to help.
Find a Mentor
The first 30 days in a new leadership role is also a good time to consider finding a mentor. First-time managers can benefit greatly from partnering with a mentor to obtain guidance as they adjust to their first manager role, develop their leadership style and skills, and navigate challenges with their new team. Mentors are often senior leaders within the company though new managers can also seek mentors outside of the organization as well. Some people find mentors through professional organizations or alumni networks.
Experienced managers coming from another organization may already have an established mentor. However, they still may want to look for internal mentorship opportunities to learn and seek guidance from someone that knows the ins and outs of their new organization.
Communicate Your Leadership Style
In addition to solidifying your leadership approach personally, it’s a good idea to talk to the new team about your leadership style and preferences. Let them know your communication preferences, whether you want them to always come to you with issues or whether you’re alright with some independent problem-solving, how you would like to keep track of their work, and anything else that seems relevant.
Towards the end of your first 30 days as a new manager, collect some feedback from both supervisors and employees. It generally takes at least 90 days to fully get onboard and up to speed in a new role, so don’t be discouraged if there’s still some work to be done or room for improvement after 30 days. Solicit feedback from your direct manager, leadership peers, other stakeholders, and even your team.
It can be a bit awkward to directly ask for feedback from direct reports, and they may be hesitant to provide criticism, so feel free to get creative with the approach. You can solicit feedback anonymously through a team survey or comment box. You can also frame it as a department-wide feedback cycle. What has been working for them overall and what would they like to see changed? This is a good way to further familiarize yourself with the operations of the team and company, as there may be issues impacting employees or outdated processes that you haven’t caught on to yet. Getting the team involved and taking the time to listen to them is another great way to build trust as you move forward in your new role beyond the first 30 days.