The new manager: your first 100 days

Tuesday 23 May 2017
Whether it’s a promotion or a move into a new company, becoming a first-time manager gives you a chance to implement fresh ideas, set out your vision for the company, and maybe even inspire your colleagues along the way.

Ever since she became a chartered accountant in December 2015, Sophie Roche wanted to go for a managerial position. In October 2016, her dedication paid off when, after six years at Grant Thornton, she was promoted to assistant manager.

Because she’d been working towards the role for several months – “I was determined to work above my level to be in a strong position for promotion” – she found the transition to a management position relatively easy. The sudden increase in responsibility – from managing a few client relationships to over 20 – was “challenging, but very rewarding”.

The biggest challenge so far has been learning to delegate. “I’m organised and structured in the way I work, but, with more than 20 jobs on the go, I had to learn to trust my team to progress with the work, and adapt to their style rather than micromanage,” says Roche. Strong timekeeping and organisation skills are also essential: “As a manager, you really have to structure your day and prioritise your tasks, while being able to respond to unexpected client queries.”

Providing constructive criticism can be difficult, Roche says, but ultimately it’s crucial for a happy and well-functioning team: “I want people to enjoy working for me, as I believe you then get the most out of your team.”

The message for new managers is: expect your first 100 days to be packed with meetings, emails and queries. This is a vital time to develop your leadership style, and cement your reputation among your peers and team.

But what should you have achieved in this crucial period, how can you overcome initial hurdles, and how can you gain the respect of your colleagues?

Expert advice for new managers

Assess the organisation

First of all, gather as much information about the organisation as possible. Learn what’s working and what’s not, explains Robert Hargrove, author of Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job and founder of Masterful Coaching. “Ask yourself: what’s missing here that would make a difference? You can’t just implement new ideas without knowing what’s happened.”

Think big. Take time to understand how your team fits into the wider organisation, find out the departments that your team communicates with, and learn how your role supports the aims of the department and the company.

In this initial period, meet with your senior managers and develop a plan. Set out a timeframe for targets you want to have achieved in the first month, after three months and so on, and discuss how these relate to the organisation’s long-term goals.

Get your colleagues onboard

This is perhaps the most daunting challenge for any new manager. You may be managing former friends, or leading an already established team, so in the first 100 days it’s crucial that you respect your colleagues, and that your colleagues respect you. To achieve this, honesty and integrity are essential. “If you demonstrate rock-solid character and integrity, you’ll be a role model,” says Hargrove. “People will trust you, and that’s important.”

In a survey conducted by Robert Half Management Resources, motivating colleagues was cited as one of the hardest challenges for first-time managers. So, to lead your team to success, establish clear goals. Sit down and ensure everyone understands their individual responsibilities – emphasise how their role fits within the wider context of the team. For each member of your team, create a personal development plan. By checking in with colleagues regularly, you’ll be taking a clear interest in your team and their career ambitions.

New Managers - Handling Common Dilemmas Checklist

Personal development

Don’t neglect your own development. In the first few weeks, when the days flash by and your to-do list grows longer, reflect on your progress, and map out your personal goals. Taking on a management role comes with challenges, so don’t burn yourself out. “Take time to do things you enjoy – go for a run and eat properly,” says Hargrove. “If you go up the ranks, you find the most successful people have resilience.”

CMI Quality of Working Life report 2016

Your first 100 days checklist

To get your first 100 days of to a productive start, here’s a handy checklist from CMI’s ManagementDirect (‘Succeeding as a new manager’):

  1. Make the most of your induction.
  2. Get to know your team.
  3. Set out to develop a winning team.
  4. Get to know your manager.
  5. Identify the criteria against which you will be judged.
  6. Be aware of the culture of your organisation.
  7. Develop a broader understanding of your organisation and your role within it.
  8. Develop your personal management style and identity.
  9. Develop a personal development plan for yourself.