Your first day on the job as a new manager can be nerve wracking.  New responsibilities, new expectations, and everyone looking to you for leadership when you don’t even know where the bathroom is yet.  So what do you do in your first days and weeks as a new manager to start things off on the right foot?  Here are ten great questions to ask:

  1. Who is on my team?  While it may be obvious who is part of your team and who isn’t, it’s a really important question to ask.  Often in addition to the people who directly report to you, there are others who either partially report to you or whose assistance and support you will need in order to be successful.  Find out who your direct reports are as well as anyone else who is a resource or an ally.
  2. 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?
  3. What deadlines and deliverables are coming up?  If you’re 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.
  4. Who are the influencers? Every organization has them – they might be managers or they might not, but knowing whose ideas carry weight within the organization is an important first step in learning the political landscape.  The best way to learn who has influence is to go meet with other people in the organization.  If you are in sales, talk to people in finance, in production, in support, or whatever other teams exist around the company to learn who’s who.
  5. How can I help?  One of the best ways to build strong ties and relationships in a new organization is to offer help.  In Adam Grant’s book Give and Take he shows that giving can be tremendously beneficial in building a network of allies who are willing to help you whenever you need it.

Coming into a new organization, especially in a leadership role is a big challenge.  What kinds of things have you found helpful when you start out as a new manager?

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