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5 Questions To Ask On Your First Day Managing A New Team

May 20, 2016

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Taking over a new team is tough. When you come in the door as a manager, all eyes are on you, and what you do during the first few days and weeks will set the stage for how you are perceived, and how you relate to your new team members.  All that pressure and you don’t even know where the bathroom is yet!  So what can you do on your first day as a new manager to start things off on the right foot?  Here are five questions to get you started:

  1. Who is on my team?  Asking who reports to you might seem like a dumb question, but it’s not always clearly stated.  Often, in addition to the people who are part of your immediate team, there are others who either partially report to you, or whose assistance and support you will need in order to be successful.
  2. Whose help do I need? Almost all businesses are made up of relationships between teams and departments. Your team likely needs the help and support of others in order to be successful. Understanding this relationship as early as possible is critical.
  3. Who needs my team’s help? As with the previous question, there are some teams who will be coming to you for something. For example, sales and customer support typically have a close relationship in product companies. While it’s always great to build relationships throughout the organization, you should prioritize getting to know the people that will be working most closely with you and your team.
  4. What are our goals and targets?  In some companies this will be easy to learn, and well-articulated.  In other organizations it may be complicated or unclear.  What are the goals of the organization as a whole?  How does your team fit into that picture? This question will take you far beyond your first day to answer, but posing it to HR, and to your direct supervisor is a good way to set up the conversation so you can learn more over time.
  5. What deadlines and deliverables are coming up?  If you are stepping into leading a team in an organization you’ve just joined, you need to find out what your team is supposed to produce in the near future and when it’s due. The last thing you want is to discover a week into the role that there was a major deadline or deliverable you were supposed to know about.

Coming into a new organization, especially in a leadership role, is a big challenge.  There is a lot to learn, and you may feel like you are drinking from the firehose for a while. Typically, your first day will be filled with HR paperwork, introductions, and getting up to speed on your technology and tools. But you will also meet people, and begin to get a sense of the landscape of the organization as a whole. These questions will help start you off on the right foot.

Asking good questions is part of putting yourself into a learning mode. While you might want to do something that quickly shows your expertise to make a good impression, the truth is that for the first several weeks, your best bet is to keep your eyes and ears open, try to absorb as much information as possible, and avoid making changes before you understand how everything fits together.

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About The Author

Katy Tynan is an expert in the future of work. She is the author of Survive Your Promotion, and her upcoming book is How Did I Not See This Coming: The New Manager’s Guide to Avoiding Total Disaster (ATD Press, November 2017). Tynan is chief talent strategist at CoreAxis Consulting.

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