So, here are ten ideas you might want to try, all guaranteed to make things work best in those very early days - indeed that very first day!
1. Say Hello to Everyone
By making sure you acknowledge each person as a real individual and worthy of your personal greeting and introduction, you will go a long way to being welcomed. Often this is way underrated. Recognising all in your team, at whatever level of contribution they make, is critical in the first moments of your management.
2. Ask Gentle Probing Questions
By finding out what's important, especially on their real lives (we'll come to the business shortly), you will build instant rapport. These people need to know you are interested in them and have the ability to see past pure productivity in the business.
3. Listen Hard and Show That You Are A Good Listener
A great way is to hear what you are being told and making eye contact and giving lots of supportive body language/noises really helps. To show you 'hear', ask another question whenever you have been told something - there is no stronger way to show that you recognise the individual importance of someone.
4. Be Positive All Day
It's easy to be critical of whoever was previously in the role. After all, it's a real easy target. Yet wait. This gives the impression that you are the type to 'pass the buck'; blame others and above all be insincere. So, stick with positive comments, whilst acknowledging possible shortfalls in the past.
5. Really Hear Complaints and Issues
There will be those who try to get in early and want change for themselves. There will also be those who want to share their frustration with you. It is vital to appreciate what they are saying in a supportive, constructive and yet rather guarded way.
On day one, you won't realise what truth is. Their words will be clouded by assumptions and polarised towards what they have experienced. So, don't be tempted to 'fix' everything from day one. Understand, appreciate and park (though get back to them as you've eased yourself in - it is vital to follow through later).
6. Seek Out What's Good About the Place
Listen and build on what is going right. You may be on the sharp end of complaints and there will be positives they want to share - even if not, look out for them. Seek good performance out wherever it is, however small. Such appreciation will be welcomed as long as it is real and honest.
7. Find Out What People Want to Work Best
A great piece is to ask them what one thing they would like to change about the place they work. Then through the actions you take to resolve, in public, you will start to be really appreciated. This is not a blank check to fix things. Sometimes things can't be fixed soon, even quickly or even ever. It might just not be possible for one person. What will be valued, will be your explaining to them why not. In fact this is probably a stronger course of action than the quick fix, as it builds trust and the relationship.
8. Be Out and About at the Sharp End
It's always tempting to sift through the office work you've inherited ('gives me a great sense of what's going on'). In fact you'll get much more from mucking in and getting your hands dirty with the people at the sharp end. Not only will you truly find out much more about the issues in the business, you will also gain the appreciation of your people, in your capacity to get stuck in with them.
9. Say Goodnight to Everyone
This doesn't apply to your first night only, but every night. You cannot overestimate the value of being at the door to the office or the store thanking everyone and saying good night. It's a small and very relationship-building activity.
10. Have Fun!
This needs a little care, especially at the beginning of your management or you can appear frivolous - or just plain daft. By laughing along with your new people you will warm to them and them to you. It just requires care and a level of awareness to make this work best.
First day over? Check yourself off against this list. How did you do, marking each out of 10?
Near to 10, well done, can it be even better tomorrow and going forward?
Not quite there, well, you can shift, if you do it early enough.
Low scores, maybe someone should have given you this checklist before you started. Now it will be uphill and you'll have to start integrating this checklist, step-by-step over the next few weeks. It is redeemable.
Now you are on the way to a healthy, thriving relationship with each and every one of your employees. Using these behaviors can be leveraged to get great value from the relationship you put time in to build.
And you have made a great start.
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