Your First 21 Days (part 2 of 3) Getting Off to a Great Start

By Tom Davidson

In your first 21 days in a new leadership role, you must figure out a few things, such as learning each staff members history, goals and expectations of you. Read more below: 

Your first 21 days on any new job are critical to your success. If you are off course by even a small amount, a false start will set you on a bad trajectory that will only get worse over time. So in the chaos and excitement of your first few weeks on the job, make sure you accomplish the following with each of your primary stakeholder groups:

1. Your Supervisor – Understanding your supervisor’s goals for you and expectations of you
2. Your Staff – Learning each person’s history, goals and expectations of you
3. Your Stakeholders – Getting to know each of your primary stakeholders and their needs

Your Supervisor was discussed in the first blog in this series; this one deals with Your Staff.

Your Staff
Whether your staff is one or 20 people, it’s imperative that you sit down with each of them very early in your tenure and accomplish several initial things. If you wait too long, they will assume you are uninterested in their views and unconcerned about their success, which will put you in a hole with each of them that will take time to dig your way out of. On the other hand, if you spend sufficient time with them early, you will set the stage for a long and productive working relationship.

Therefore, set up a series of one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports, telling them in advance that you want to learn about them and get their advice as soon as possible. Over this series of entry meetings, find out the following and start a file on each individual:

• Tell me about yourself, your work history and family.
• What is your role and how has it changed over time?
• What do you like about your job and what would you like to do more of (less of)?
• What are your career and personal goals?
• What is going well around here, and what could go even better?
• If I were to be your best boss ever, what would you see me doing?
• What advice do you have for me?
• How would you like to meet like this on a regular basis so we can stay on track?

If you conduct these meetings in a positive way, demonstrate active listening and show that you care, you will start building needed equity early with your direct reports and learn a great deal about your staff’s motivations and expectations of you. This will make it possible for you to be an effective servant leader and enable you to avoid at least some of the inevitable pot holes that await your arrival.

We’ll discuss your third constituent group – Your Stakeholders – in the next blog post in this series. In the meantime, what other questions would be good to ask your direct reports in the first 21 days?

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