Starting a new job is stressful at the best of times, even when it’s an amazing job that you’re genuinely looking forward to and excited about. That’s an inherent part of trying to acclimate to a new environment, with new colleagues, having to make relationships with a lot of new people in a short amount of time, as well as starting to work on tasks that might be newer to you.
Starting a new job where you’ll be responsible for a group of people who you don’t know and who don’t know you is a degree above that level of stress. The nature of those relationships that you’ll have to form is different. When you aren’t exclusively interacting with peers, you generally have to be a little more careful about how you conduct yourself because you’re missing a lot of the implicit understandings that you might have within a peer group. When you’re responsible for assessing someone’s performance levels, what kind of salary they get, and have the ability to shape and change the way their role is set up, those first few weeks can be fraught for both parties. Just as you don’t know them and are focused on forming your first impressions, they don’t know you and have no idea what to expect from you.
I’ve started as a new manager for a team multiple times in the past. I’ve also watched other people start in a similar position. One of the most memorable situations happened within the marketing department in a company I used to work in. The head of their department left at fairly short notice. When her replacement was hired, he made multiple, large decisions in a row that changed the structure of the department as a whole and meant that a few positions were made completely redundant. This kind of information was announced publicly and led to the kind of conflict that ended with people bursting into tears and storming out of the room, at work. I heard about this only secondhand from the people who were impacted. Their retelling was coloured with feelings of stress, frustration, and a certain amount of offence, on the personal level.
It took a long time for that situation to be resolved but once the team had enough time to get to know their new head, they actually got along with him quite well and had minimal problems. Without going into the specifics of the situation and understanding both sides, there are at least some learnings that could be taken from it. The biggest one is that much of the conflict that comes out of these situations can be avoided if decisions are made from a foundation of trust. If people already know you, trust your judgement, and believe that you want to make decisions that work in everyone’s favour (and not just your own), there will automatically be much less friction around everything that goes on. If you get the first few weeks and months right, you can have a much easier transition and you’ll be able to build the kinds of relationships that can really withstand these types of situations.
This article is specifically focused on new hires taking over an already established team. It’ll be relevant to you if you’re promoted internally to take on a team that you haven’t closely worked with before. It might introduce some concepts that are valuable if you’re promoted to manage the team you used to work in, but some points might not be applicable for that.
Brucke Tuckman’s Four Stages of Team Development
I’ll refer to Bruce Tuckman’s Four Stages of Team Development throughout this article. He’s a psychologist who identified four key stages to a team’s development: Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing. Essentially, your goal as a manager is to get your team to the performing stage and to keep them there for as long as possible. This is a useful model to use when thinking about team development because, when you’re able to identify which stage your team is at, it’s easier to understand what they need in order to get to the next level. It’ll also help you to structure the way you work with your team and to give you something to aim for. If you understand what the performing level looks like and why it’s valuable, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you’re working towards.
The Challenges of Taking on New Teams
It’s difficult to take on a new team for a number of reasons, even beyond the base of stress inherently caused by the situation. The first thing to keep in mind is that adding any new person to any team requires a certain amount of adaptability. New team members always change the dynamic of the team and how the people interact with each other. They can add new aspects to every discussion and impact both current and previous decisions because they bring in a new perspective. It takes time for the group dynamics to settle and for people to get used to each other.
Every time a major change happens, the team will always go back to the forming stage, where you need to define everyone’s roles, the team’s goals and direction, and people still need to get to know each other. This stage is characterised by a certain amount of anxiety because the team is new. When people don’t know what to expect from everyone around them, they tend to feel a little insecure or shy, and are more likely to hold back their opinions and try to avoid conflict. Others might respond to this insecurity by getting louder and trying to influence decisions more heavily than they would otherwise. It’s important to remember that this is a normal part of any kind of shake-up or change in team members.
This gets complicated even more by a difference in the hierarchy. When your position as a manager is formally recognised, your responsibility towards the people in your team is different. Even if it isn’t in line with how you approach your role, the moment you have a say in what constitutes someone else doing a great job and what would be average vs low performance, people will generally have a slightly different way of interacting with you. They just don’t know what to expect from you so this heightens that anxiety or insecurity mentioned earlier. Because of this environment, your first few weeks and months will often be characterised by trying to find the right pace of making changes, without breaking any good rhythms that already exist and creating avoidable stress for your teammates.
Finally, there will always be history that you aren’t aware of. It’s easy to inherit a bad situation that you had no role in and that, perhaps, you might not be able to change for the better. One of the first teams I took on had developed something of a knee-jerk response against any kind of team-building activities, as a response to management trying to “force” team cohesion. Many members of the team felt that they were expected to become friends with their colleagues and rebelled against that idea intensely, with the argument that they cannot be required to make personal relationships as a part of their job. That situation resulted in a fair amount of resentment and frustration targeted at management as a whole. I came into that role with the understanding that a certain amount of team-building was in fact expected from me and that naturally led to some conflict.
If you come into a situation like that, with a long history, that’s already impacted the relationships of the people around you, the best you can do is adapt to it and try to react accordingly. The difficulty is in becoming aware of the history, understanding what happened, and being able to identify how and why it impacts your team in certain ways.
Value of Smooth Transitions
It’s worth taking the time to really work on the transition and actively try to make it as smooth as possible. The biggest win will simply be much less stress for all sides. It’ll pay off for you on three different levels.
The first level is for you, personally. Starting a new job is already hard enough, so everything you can do to make it easier for yourself will help you. You want to be able to learn as much as you can in as short a time as possible, so the quicker you can build relationships and adjust to your environment, the sooner you can do that. The lower your own stress level, the better you’ll feel about the job yourself. Most new jobs start with a probation period and your superior will be looking at your own performance pretty closely. If you’re able to show that you can get things done because you have a short and smooth transition period, your performance will be at a much higher level.
The second level is for your team as a group. If we go back to the four stages of team development, the quicker the transition is, the sooner you’ll be able to get your team to the performing stage. When a team hits the performing stage, they work like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows exactly what’s expected from them, does their best to work at a consistently high level, and they’re able to hash out conflicts in ways that are useful for the team as a whole. It’s much more fun to work at this stage than at any other stage because it’s motivating to feel like everyone is on the same page and connected through a shared purpose and shared goals.
The third level is for each individual in your team. It’s completely understandable that these first weeks and months are a turbulent time for you and for the people who work with you. It isn’t going to be possible to avoid that turbulence altogether. The idea of “hitting the ground running” isn’t actually realistic either. You have to be aware that a certain amount of adjustment time is required and unavoidable. Making the most of that time to build strong foundations for your relationship with your teammates is the most effective way of using it. If you do this well, they’ll start trusting you and start approaching you with feedback and ideas very quickly. In the end, you are dependent on their input to ever be truly effective at your role, because good management requires both sides to work together. The least you’ll be able to do is reduce the stress on their end. The most you’ll be able to do is make dramatic improvements, very quickly, and get them to be more effective as well.
How to Tackle The First Months
The best general recommendation is to consciously decide on the mindset you’ll adopt, before you start working in that role. How do you want to approach your position and your first months? What are the most important things you want to achieve? How long do you think it will take to achieve them? What will help you achieve them? Most of this article is going to be more specific and list some of the tools that have helped me when I’ve done this in the past but you’re the only one who can figure out the general outlook and make the necessary adjustments depending on your context and environment.
In most environments, there are some important aspects to that. The first one is looking at the situation with a certain amount of humility and caution. No matter how much experience you have, every new team or new company you work with will have their own quirks, their own ways of doing things, and their own experiences that have shaped them. It’s just not possible for you to understand those when you haven’t worked with those people yourself yet. You have to go into it with an open mind and use your judgement based on your interactions with those people in the moment.
In most cases, the interview process before you get hired will give you at least some guidance to start with whether it comes directly from the hiring manager or perhaps from some of the people you’re going to manage that were involved in that process. In general, if the hiring manager for your position doesn’t give you any insights here, you should ask about them directly yourself. What’s your team like? How long has the team been formed? Why is your position open? What are they looking for you to achieve? You can use these insights to inform your mindset too.
For example, let’s say you know the team has minimal structure and one of your responsibilities will be helping the team navigate their responsibilities by providing that structure. You could already decide you want to focus on understanding which processes they do have in place, which new ones are sorely needed, and which ones exist but don’t work very well at all. If you know the team is experienced and knows what they’re doing, then you know you’ll probably need a less active role and your immediate focus should just be on getting to know the people and understanding how they work. The key aspects will be the same each time but taking the time to think about it and plan it will help you out. The purpose of this isn’t to say that you need to have it all figured out. Remember that earlier point around open-mindedness. The point is to give yourself broad strokes and a very general impression, that you can slowly start to fill in when you actually start working.
Another aspect of this is to think about your approach towards change. To a certain extent, change is a great tool. When new people join a team, it’s often a great opportunity to get fresh insights and new perspectives. The moment you have to teach someone why you work in a particular way is often a great moment to question already established processes. You want to leverage those fresh eyes that you have as much as you can. Part of that will be finding the right balance between making the changes that are necessary and helpful, while being careful not to change too much, too quickly, or make changes ad-hoc. That isn’t a lesson that can be taught through anything but experience. The extent will always depend hugely on your specific environment and judgement. Take the time to think about it now so that, if you find yourself facing that situation within your new role, you have something of a head start.
The best outcome for this stage is to have some bullet point notes for yourself that you can use to center and guide yourself. This will also inform everything you work through for the next parts.
This is a valuable life lesson in general, especially at work but it’ll be especially useful here as well. There are two main aspects that will help a lot if you want to be at least partially successful at this.
The first one is in cultivating your impressions and just learning as much as you can. One of the most effective ways to do this is to actually write things down. Whatever you can do to note down your impressions in those first few weeks will be extremely helpful. This is how you can make the most of your fresh eyes. Maybe there are a million and one different projects that you’d like to tackle based on your initial experiences. You’ll never get time for them all but it’s so easy for them to be lost if you don’t write them down. The last time I started in a new role, I had one empty Google document that was constantly open for the first month or so. It became a huge, long list of individual notes and things that came to mind through those weeks. I’d write into it when I did the first one-on-ones, when I went through the onboarding process, and when I received feedback from my boss. Just having everything available in one place was helpful. Even if you don’t use this directly, you’re much more likely to remember these things if you put in the effort at this point.
The second aspect is in structuring those impressions. Once you have them written down, you can slowly start to cluster items to recognise patterns. Once you have patterns and can see where there might be recurring issues, you can start thinking about how to prioritise them. When you have priorities, you can figure out how to work on them. What will bring the most value to your team in the slowest period of time? What has been neglected for a long time and is starting to really hold the team back? Structuring your thoughts is always going to be the first step, no matter what you do. If you want to understand your environment to the depth needed for you to be able to change it, you should do this before anything else. This is what will give you direction, a plan, and the confidence to go for it, because you’ll know what you’re trying to achieve.
The kind of structure you go for doesn’t really matter at this point. The format you use for your notes is equally as unimportant. Figuring out a specific format and structure that works for you is a personal process, and one that can take a fair amount of experimentation before you land on something that you know clicks. All you need to start is an empty document or a notes file. You can build up in complexity from that point and start experimenting with mind-mapping tools or whatever seems appealing to you. Spend some time on these two things early on and it’ll be a worthwhile investment of your time. It will set you up for success.
By this point, you should have:
1) A clear mindset that you’re aiming to approach your first few weeks in your role with.
2) Some form of written down impressions and notes from those first few weeks.
3) Have these notes compiled in some kind of structure.
This part is about making the most of the structure that you have. At this point, you should have enough to fill in the big picture. The point now is to try to escape from the granular details that you’ve probably collected to date and to try to abstract those issues.
For example, maybe a big part of your team’s feedback was around a lack of focus. This could be in the form of feedback around having too many different tasks at the same time, in not understanding the purpose of some of these or their priorities in relation to each other. This could be around feeling distracted and not achieving or getting to the end of a project. If you get feedback like this from multiple people, you can have focus be one of your headings and start thinking about how to approach it.
Another example could be feedback around team-building. Maybe they don’t feel like they know or trust the others they work with too much. You can pick up on this if they seem frustrated because of another person’s opinions or work. When you put these pieces together, you can start piecing together the big picture. Big picture in this case doesn’t mean coming up with a long-term vision and direction. That’s something that will likely take much longer. It just means identifying 2-3 big topics that you think are the most essential for your team right now.
The best way to figure this out is to look at the clusters you’ve collected so far, then ask yourself: are there any particularly large ones? Do any of them seem like they’d have a huge positive impact on your team? Which of them is likely to provide yourself and your team with a short-term win? It’s great to bond over achieving something together. Finding opportunities to work closely with your team early on will both make it easier for you to get to know them better, quicker and also make it easier for them to start understanding how you work and what’s important to you.
So, take your clusters and use them to set short-term goals, primarily for yourself at this stage. Come up with a timeline for when you’d like to achieve those goals and a plan for how you’ll tackle them. Those things together will make up your big picture.
The approach above is how you can get started figuring out your own opportunities based on your specific environment. The following is a breakdown that I’ve found the most helpful from my experience. It uses the 30-60-90 day model because that’s a relatively widespread way to set goals for new hires in many companies. It’s also a natural timeline for setting personal goals by yourself. Three months constitute the minimum amount of time that you can expect to spend in this “onboarding” phase, where you’re still settling down and getting to know the people you’ll be working with. By about three months into a new role, you should be working at your normal pace. By six months, you should hit your groove and be fairly comfortable.
Remember that everything mentioned here is just a guideline. It could be that your experience is different. Maybe your company has such incredibly complex processes that your onboarding takes a lot longer. You have to adjust the following to your context and apply them there.
30 Days: Establishing Rapport
Rapport is a great word to think about for those first 30 days. Rapport is essentially about developing a good understanding of someone and the ability to communicate with them well. You want to establish rapport with everyone you’ll be immediately working with as quickly as possible because it’ll help you build the kind of meaningful, open relationship that you want to have in your team.
The quickest way to establish rapport with someone is simply talking to them, ideally in different contexts, so they have the opportunity to see how you react on different levels. As soon as you start your job, you should schedule the first set of one-on-ones that you’ll do with everyone. It’s important to take the time to do these individually. No matter what kind of group you work in or how close your team is, it’s very rare to find a group of people in which conversation isn’t dominated by the more extroverted people. Group dynamics also colour how people respond in a situation so the best impression you’ll get of someone is when they’re by themselves. Use your first one-on-ones to get to know the person properly. Ask them about their background, what motivates them, and what they like about their job. These first meetings are most effective when they’re informal and relaxed because most people will go into them a little hesitant. Sometimes it just takes time for people to warm up so be prepared to manage that.
Doing one-on-ones well is a skill in and of itself but, on a fundamental level, all you need to do is see how the conversation goes and then react to it. If you find yourself talking to someone who’s more sure of what they’re looking for and is strongly opinionated, you might not need to direct the conversation too much. In those cases, feel free to take a step back and follow their lead. If you find yourself talking to someone who’s more reticent and has a harder time opening up, be prepared with questions and follow up until you hit a topic that they’re comfortable talking about.
One way to interact with everyone on the group level is through a team workshop. Some companies will already have workshop plans that they use often but if not, you can always plan one by yourself. Your focus in these first weeks is just getting to know everyone, so build in time for ice-breakers and simple team-building activities, and spend time observing how everyone interacts with each other. It’s a fun way to break everyone out of their day-to-day rhythm.
The most effective workshops for this stage are the ones that give everyone an opportunity to interact with you. Presumably, most of the members of the team should hopefully know each other pretty well already. If that isn’t the case, this would be a good time to build that into your workshop design as well.
“Workshop” sounds complicated but it really doesn’t have to be. You can hold a brainstorming session around a topic like “how would you characterise the team and its values” with a simple ice-breaker question before and a team game of some kind afterwards. You can aim for about two hours and go from there. Remember that it isn’t so much about doing something comprehensive or about achieving a nebulous, difficult outcome. It’s just about looking for ways to interact with everyone in different contexts.
Your first focus will be on interacting with the team and getting to know them. Your second focus is on getting to know their processes and how they work. One of the most effective ways to do this is to get an individual onboarding from them about their own day-to-day tasks. You should spend a few hours shadowing them and try to do some of those tasks yourself, depending on how complex they are.
What this looks like depends on your team’s work. If, for example, you’ll be taking on a support team, you should spend a significant amount of time answering tickets. If you’ll be taking on a cross-functional product team, you should develop a comprehensive understanding of how they interact with each other and how each individual helps them take a project from start to finish, including the tools they use, the workflows they have, and the philosophies they follow. If it’s an operational team, you want to figure out what the regular, day-to-day flows that they have to do look like and how they impact projects or broader goals.
By the end of this onboarding, you want to understand what your team’s daily priorities are and how they work to achieve them. Ideally, you want to already have some ideas about the processes that might be lacking or making the team’s work inefficient. You don’t need to know everything at this point but you should have a general overview and a thorough understanding of the basics. If you invest time in activities like shadowing, not only will you get an opportunity to interact with the team while they work, they’ll also start getting an idea of how you work.
This part is essential in establishing rapport because the more distant you are from the day-to-day work, the harder it is for you to empathise with them and understand why they do certain things. One of the eternal struggles of being a great manager is finding the right balance between participating in the team’s work and therefore being a part of it, and in leading the team. The tasks and mindset involved in those two aspects can be very different. It remains the most effective strategy in getting close to your team, however, and will be a shortcut for you in the long run.
60 Days: Building Trust
Building trust takes a long time and is often dependent on the experiences you make together as a team. You can’t expect to have everyone’s full trust two months into a new job, so don’t aim for that. Trust builds up slowly, so your focus is on building up the series of incremental, small interactions that build on each other in the long term.
By this point, you hopefully know everyone on the team relatively well and understand how they work. You can now start building a picture for yourself. Based on the observations that you’ve made so far, start identifying the parts of their work that are successful. It’s important to identify these explicitly so that you can be careful about making any changes that detract or impact them negatively. Then create an overview for yourself of what isn’t going well.
This overview should be shaped and influenced by your team’s feedback and your interactions with them. This is where listening carefully and closely pays off. Ideally, your impressions of the areas that need improvement shouldn’t be a surprise to the team. In fact, if you picked up on the right things, they’ll be relieved and excited because you’ll hopefully be tackling the issues that they’ve been struggling with for a long time.
Once you’ve created an overview of the areas that need improvement, start writing up a plan for how to tackle these. This means figuring out priorities first. The best way to start prioritising is to identify the top issue you want to work on. You need only one top priority. The moment you’ve listed 2-3 things that you’d consider to be your top priority, you’ve already failed at prioritising and distracted yourself from what’s more important. The difficulty here is in defining why something is a priority or not. This isn’t to say that you have to then work on the top priority issue at all. It could be that you know this is really the most impactful project to work on for your team but you make a conscious decision to prioritise something else because you want a different outcome.
For example, let’s say you’re managing a communications team and you sorely need a social media strategy. This is something that’s come up regularly in your first weeks and it’s clear that the team is struggling without having it. You’re blocked when it comes to having the resources available though. Your team is focused on other tasks and more confident and successful with them. So you make the decision to focus on an easy win for your first months, rather than tackling a larger project that might involve advocating for additional resources.
Early on, the projects you want to focus on are the ones which fulfil the following criteria:
- They will have a positive impact on your team.
- You will be able to complete the project relatively quickly.
- They will enable as much interaction amongst you and the members of your team as possible.
- They have a clear outcome that you’re aiming for.
- As a group, you will experience the benefits of achieving that outcome.
This is because you want to bring the team together and display the impact you can have relatively quickly. One of the first projects I worked on when I took on my last support team was overhauling all internal macros and templates. We prioritised this over working on our external help documentation, even though that might have brought the most value because it was a short-term project that could be completed quickly, it forced everyone on the team to work together, had a huge impact on our day-to-day work, and paid off in terms of knowledge sharing and ensuring everyone in the team could handle more topics.
Setting short-term goals
Goal-setting is a broader topic in and of itself but for now, your focus is to set simple, short-term goals. There are two layers to this.
The first one is to set personal goals. This ties back to some of the background work mentioned earlier, where you think about your own mindset and what you would like to achieve. Now that you’re at a point where you have a good idea of what the team’s priorities should be, it’s good to revisit those thoughts. Do you have any new personal goals based on your experience so far? Have any of the previous ones changed based on what you’ve learned in the last few weeks? You don’t need very many goals but it’s important to have 1-2 that are meaningful to you.
The second layer is of course setting goals for the team. Once you’ve picked something to work on, you should figure out how to phrase that as a goal. What exactly are you trying to achieve? How would you know if you were successful at it or not?
Chances are, both personal and team goals will be informed heavily by the expectations set towards you. Hopefully, if your company has a structured onboarding process in place, your onboarding should already include goals that your boss would like to see you achieve. You might not have to do this explicitly, if those goals are already handed down. If not, it’s worth having conversations with the people outside of your team who closely work with you and gaining an understanding of what their expectations are. When would they say your team is successful?
Doing this well will help you develop trust because it’ll be built on a stronger foundation. Your team will start getting an idea of how you think and how you work. The best way to build trust, beyond open and regular communication, is by proving you have the team’s best interests in mind and that you’re able to help them get things done. You can only do this by doing your job to the best of your ability. These steps are essential for that.
Setting tone and culture
People often take their cues from the people around them. This is true in all group dynamics and it’s especially noticeable in the workplace. This is why culture is such a key factor to get right for a company. If you want people to interact with each other in a certain tone and to embody certain values, you need to find a way to act those out regularly enough that they become part of the group’s culture. Culture is a much more complex topic than what can be covered here. What’s important to keep in mind is that you want to embody whatever cultural values you’re aiming for in these first weeks.
A big part of your focus at this stage as well should be the interaction with the team. So make sure you’re doing regular one-on-ones, try to have open and direct communication as often as possible. You want to inquire, ask questions, and make suggestions without creating conflict. This is the best opportunity for you to set the kind of tone in your communication that’s important to you. If you want to encourage a culture around feedback exchange, make sure you ask and give feedback in these weeks. If you want your teammates to come to you with their problems, make sure you react to those in the best way you can. They haven’t yet settled into working with you and their expectations are relatively open at this stage, so this is the best time to try to set the ground rules that are important to you.
The way to set yourself up for success is simple: communication. Tell them what you’re working on, why you’re working on it, what you think your priorities should be and why. Leave room for them to challenge you. Be open to changing your mind. All of these are fundamental aspects to successful communication.
90 Days: Setting Foundations
Ideally, by this point you’ve gotten to know everyone pretty well and you’re working together on some short-term tasks. You know what to expect from them and your team knows what to expect from you. Now you can start working on the foundations that will hopefully carry you through your role.
Feedback is essential if you want to understand how everyone perceives your performance to date. If your company doesn’t already have a regular feedback process built into the onboarding, three months is a good time to get a round of feedback from your team. How do they feel your transition went? What aspects have gone really well? What could you do better? Is there anything that they feel is lacking that they’d like to see?
The format you use for this is completely up to you. You can do it in a team setting, if you think everyone will be able to give feedback in that form, or ask in individual one-on-ones or send out a survey. Whatever format you choose just needs to enable them to give you honest, direct feedback.
This is also a good opportunity to evaluate your progress on those short-term goals (as a team and individually) and see how they’re working out. It’s very possible that you’ve already learned new lessons from that experience and want to change your approach, so take the time to think it through and ask for feedback.
Performance and development
Three months is also a good timeline to have started getting a sense of everyone’s performance levels. Start by creating an overview of the team’s performance. Come up with five different areas that you consider essential for your team’s success and rate how they’re doing with each one. Then do the same for the individuals in your team. You can use this for basic performance assessment no matter what level you’re at. It doesn’t need to be complete. It doesn’t even need to cover everything that you would consider important because some things might come to mind at a later point.
At this stage, this overview might not be as comprehensive as you’d like it to be. That’s completely fine, you can continue to fill it in as you grow into your position. It should help you identify where the gaps are and, over time, build an understanding of your team’s strengths and weaknesses. When you have this in place you can start thinking about your team’s development. Remember that your ultimate goal is to take your team to the performing stage. Doing this kind of assessment here will help you figure out what the team is lacking in order to get there. The first step to improving or developing anything at all is knowing what it is you want to target.
Chances are, there may be some areas of conflict that crop up at this point. If your team is no longer at the forming stage but is somewhere between norming and storming, you’re likely to see some of that conflict. It’s usually caused by lack of clarity in terms of expectations or roles, so this might be the right time for you to set clearer expectations or address those areas of conflict. This will just depend on your team’s level and where they’re at.
By this point, you should’ve received some feedback about your performance to date and about how the team’s doing in general. You should’ve also started charting out and assessing your team’s performance. This should give you all the pieces you need to start thinking about your long-term strategy. Your next timeline to aim for could be 3-6 months, and the one after that 6-12 months.
Start by imagining what your team would look like, if they are working at the best level that you could imagine. How would you be able to identify that performing stage if you were to see it, in this environment? Use that to set longer term goals, which you can then break down into a shorter term strategy of how to get there. To reiterate, nothing here needs to be perfect or complete. This is just about starting to develop roots: the foundation that you’ll build on for the next months, if not years. A successful transition doesn’t mean that you’re able to assess everything perfectly, or come up with the best possible strategy immediately. The purpose of doing these tasks here is to start thinking about these areas because they’re foundational for the ultimate success within your position.
Assessing Your Success
You can assess how successful you’ve been by the end of this process by using two sources of feedback. The first one is your own self. You can evaluate your performance according to the goals you set out for yourself at the beginning. Were you able to achieve them? Did you achieve them to the best of your ability? If you weren’t, what stopped you from doing so? How well do you know your team? What stage of development is your team at? All of these are things only you can judge.
Your second source of feedback is your colleagues: your boss and your team at minimum. You should have a sense of how successful they feel you’ve been by this point, if you followed the suggestion of getting thorough feedback from them. Their perceptions should either reinforce your own self-assessment or should give you new insights that you hadn’t considered before.
Ultimately, none of the topics mentioned here will end when your onboarding is over. All of them will become part of your ongoing tasks and responsibilities. It could be that the timeline mentioned above is far too short for your environment and that it takes you much longer to get to that stage. That’s also fine. None of the suggestions have to be done at any particular point in time. You can always catch up and do them independently, whenever you feel like they’ll be necessary or helpful to you.
We’ plan on preparing the following resources for you to help you out if you want to implement any of these suggestions:
- A checklist covering the first 30-60-90 days of taking over a new team.
- A list of questions and topics to cover in your first one-on-one.
- A workshop plan that you can use in your first week.
- Feedback questions for the 90-day mark to get feedback from your team.
Interested? Leave us a comment! If you have any questions or other feedback, we’re always excited to hear it.