To me, there’s nothing worse than a Dream-Killer… I have a few pet peeves and this one ranks pretty high on my list! I once played on a team, trained all off-season, was in the best physical and mental shape of my life and on the first meeting of camp… the coach enters and says, “No one in here is going to the NFL, so….”. I don’t remember anything after that; I was not deterred from my dream, rather stuck on how a person in leadership could start a meeting with brand new people that way… and expect unbridled trust and loyalty. Another time, I took my son to a football camp and the first thing the coaches mentioned was, “statistically only blah, blah, blah make it to the NFL and you’re one injury away from…”. As an employee, I remember a new CEO coming to visit our facility. He was ushered around by seemingly four bodyguards, made minimal eye contact, gave the politician smile, and left the building. What was that!
If you’re in a professional position of leadership, at some point you will have your first experience walking into the building, meeting your team, and leading those who want to be led, don’t want to be led, and those that could care less… not to mention finding your flow, the process of how things work, who really holds the power… and where the bathroom is, Lol! So, what to do? Let’s explore a few things to do over your first 30 days to get you started!
Before we officially jump into the 4 Key Points… it makes sense to always, in the beginning, throughout the middle, and at the end of your tenure to walk in with your head up, eyes up, smiling, and greeting people! Remember, some people may have heard of you, haven’t at all, or may hate your guts because you took THEIR promotion, etc… be sure to make and maintain a positive and approachable demeanor that exudes the same energy you’re going to want your staff to display on a daily basis.
Get your team together as quickly as you can! They know you’re coming, hopefully… they know you were coming… and everyone may be a bit anxious. This may happen the first day; as you have set up the importance of a team meeting with whoever hired you and the planning has already been done with the date and time sent as a mandatory meeting. When this isn’t the case; your people may be in flux with their own meetings and crisis… plan it for later in the day or treat to lunch. This meeting always proves to be interesting as you stand to speak, introduce yourself in a confident yet curious tone to get to know everyone and the team as a whole. It will also be interesting viewing the faces in the crowd… who’s genuinely excited, interested, bored, agitated, and those that don’t attend.
This is also time to have one of the most important conversations you must be willing to have as a leader… and it goes like:
- Hello and introduce yourself! Perhaps where you’re coming from and if you decide to share personal info… that you’re a proud mother or father of 3, just got a new puppy, or just became a grandparent. It’s amazing who we may bond with or who may bond with us when we eliminate the jargon no one really cares much about.
- Thank your new team for their hard work and effort up to this point. Even if you’re walking into the worst team ever with the worse morale ever… the fact you’re walking into a job means the organization still lives and someone had to do something right for that to be the case. Sometimes, the only positive you can find is that someone is breathing… and for now… that has to be enough; celebrate it!
- Make them aware of what’s great about the team, their effort, and how it’s contributed to the bigger picture of the organization. In addition, you’re excited to use this as a springboard to where WE are going next!
- Share that the team and organization will continue to do the great and is excited to fine-tune, add, and possibly subtract some things to become elite. We are going to be “THEE ______________!” and although I have ideas, I don’t think it’d be fair to start anything until I’ve met with each of you individually (or at least your direct reports… and them with each of their direct reports or teams), as teams, and attended a few team meetings. Thanks so much for having me and I’m excited to start this process NOW! This leads us into the next Key!
Not Now & Observe!
So many times, as the newly promoted leader or leader walking into a new team, we enter with our ideas and how things should and need to be. Even though you may be right, it may prove to discount some of the good that’s been accomplished. When I was newly promoted, I managed before I knew how to lead… wanting everyone to be like me, think like me, have my superpower, and care as much as I did about what I cared about… completely missing the mark of my team, what they’ve been through, enjoyed about the job, disliked about the job, their experience with past bosses, and what they wanted to get out of working there. I wish I would have done what I’m about to share with you.
During your first 30 days (or fewer, depending on the size of your team) you’re gathering nuts like a leader squirrel, because winter is coming when you officially re-meet with your staff to institute changes… and at that time, connections will matter!
During this 30 Day Period:
- Schedule 1-on-1 Meetings with your people and don’t cancel or reschedule… and feel free to address some of the questions and topics I shared above. Or, use my Leader’s 1-on-1 format I’ve shared in other articles: It may be a great idea to share the format and timeframe of the meeting to help decrease anxiety and to maintain a productive day for you and for them! P.O.W. – their Positive of the Week… and be ready to answer the P.O.W. first (professional and personal); allowing them time to think and provides an example of what to say. Then, what would they like to get out of the meeting, how long they’ve worked here, like most about the job, most frustrating part of their job, what they liked about their last boss, what they struggled with, what their vision is for themselves in the company, and what we need to be focused on to be and stay elite… as a team, as an organization, and for your customers. Then, share what you like and need out of them and employees in general for the team to best operate and most importantly become elite. End by thanking them and asking, “What was your biggest takeaway from our meeting today?”. This is a juggernaut as they walk out of your office or leave the virtual call feeling like they got something out of it; rather than YOU telling them what was good about it!
- Attend and Observe team meetings. This is not the time for your input; rather a time for observation. How does your team engage with one another? An employee may be great meeting with you alone, but observing how they engage with their team, in meetings, and in real-time is different! How do they listen to the ideas of others, make decisions, delegate, and how do they receive leadership?
- Meet with your leaders individually to review what they think is great about their team meetings and what they’d like to fine-tune to become elite. This is also the time to address the positives you witnessed associated with the running and results of their meetings… along with tips to help fine-tune!
It’s been about 30 days… now it’s time to get everyone together again! During this regather it’s time to share what you saw was great and address the additions and/or subtractions that will be made to move the team and organization forward to elite status… be sure you have a simple and working definition of what YOU mean by ELITE!
I often discuss my Leader’s 3 in my Leadership Trainings and Speaking Engagements and it breaks down to:
- Share your Vision for your team/organization. The premature leader stops there… you are going to also share the Vision Factors! The 3-5 things that when your people/team does them consistently the Vision must come true.
- Expectations – What are your expectations for your people/team/ organization as a leader. Mine is positivity… which correlates to no gossip, exchanging pleasantries with others, no lewd jokes etc., and living in the positive and managing the negatives.
- Rules – What are the new rules you have to best move things from bad to good, good to great, or great to elite? I suggest no more than three. Feel free to use mine: Be on time, after 3-4 emails about the same thing let’s connect, and please accompany your problem with a suggested solution; allowing your people to elevate their leadership skills, think outside the box, and protect your time. You now have options to go with their idea, collaborate to fine-tune their idea, challenge them to fit their idea into the bigger picture and Vision Factors, or not go with the idea; as it’s not viable or the desired direction of the organization.
Meeting with Your Team/s!
Sharing your Leader’s 3 with the big group is a logical start, but it’s like getting together the company to share the mission statement one time. It’s simply a start, not a process that takes you anywhere. Your personal leadership in how you carry yourself, enter the building, connect with your people, and follow-through on your Leader’s 3 (on things your people like and dislike) will always set the tone and example.
Re-meet with your team or leaders, as a group, to drive your Leader’s 3 home! Remember… you observed team meetings, you’ve been meeting 1-on-1 with individuals, and have met with the leaders to applaud and fine-tune. This is the time to meet with leaders so they can fine-tune their Leader’s 3 for their teams.
It’s best to ask leaders to have their own Leader’s 3, what’s their Vision for their team; along with the 3-5 when done consistently make it happen and make company elite! Everyone’s Leader’s 3 does not have to match yours, but they must all align and it’s YOUR job to make sure that’s the case!
There goes your 30-Day Plan (give or take a few days/weeks depending on the size of your team and organization). It’s a lot; as leadership is not for the faint of heart. However, making it about becoming the best of the best with no wiggle room for excuses…all with leaders understanding their people and teams; and vice-versa is a formula that’s hard to deny. Please remember, this is easier to read than do… and some of your people will show themselves, for better and for worse. Reward those on the train and accept that not everyone who starts with you GETS to finish with you… and that’s going to have to be ok! Enjoy the journey!
“As a leader, an employee may be great meeting with you alone, but observing how they engage with their team, in meetings, and in real-time is different… Be mindful and observe!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
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