Your first day as the new manager of a department might feel overwhelming. You may wonder why you ever wanted to take on such a challenge in your career. You have the answer: If you are not moving forward you are falling behind. You had good reasons for accepting this job~~or promotion~~or option. The opportunity would not have occurred if you were not ready for it. All is exactly as it should be!
These next few days provide you with the opportunity to assess your new environment. Study the physical space. Think about whether staff workspaces are conducive to collaboration or to solitary study. Is the area open to the hallway? Is there noise pollution? Is the lighting suitable? What sorts of traffic patterns exist inside and around the department?
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the systems and activities currently in place. How does staff learn about and accomplish department objectives and goals? Is their information and technology timely and relevant? How are communications achieved? Are your players all on-site simultaneously, or do you have more than one shift, or off-site or even off-shore staff?
Most of what your staff is doing has been dictated to them~~by previous managers, by the hardware or software; by workflow, by the corporate culture. Reserve judgment. If a process appears inefficient or ridiculous, take some time to investigate why it’s being followed. The answers may surprise you, and you’ll be glad you proceeded with caution.
While you may believe you know the staff’s strengths and weaknesses, you likely have not thought of them as your resources, your collateral, your cohorts, who will either support or interfere with your next career step. This is an excellent time to consider their personal styles, and examine whether their strengths are being utilized effectively.
Expect to feel as though you are on a roller coaster at times, if not intellectually then emotionally. When you feel vulnerable, be careful not to share your emotions or thoughts unwisely. It is especially unwise to confide in anyone in your workplace until you know much more about the players. And DO NOT share confidences with your direct reports.
Jeannie Newman, of JZN Associates, is known for her motivational talks and a variety of interactive personal and professional development workshops. The topics are all based on the foundation of Emotional Intelligence. Find her at JZNAssociates.com, or on LinkedIn.