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Set Priorities for Your New Job as Manager

May 10, 2017

Starting a new job as a manager can be hard. You walk in a new place, you hardly know what's going on, and you want to show everyone how good of a hire you are. Rushing and pushing to make a positive impression quickly can backfire, however.
Similarly, trying to revamp processes and procedures before understanding why things are being done the way they are can undermine that positive impression you're trying to build quickly.
In the first few weeks, your biggest task is to gather as much as you can about the workflow and the existing structures and teams. To do so, you will need to be humble, listen and learn. Here is how.

Be humble
Yes, you need to impress everyone around: the management that signed off on your hiring as well as your team. But no one expects you to be able to walk into a new organisation and pull off a magic trick that makes everything better, more productive and efficient.
In your early days, your priority should be to get a grasp on the priorities of the company, goals and what you're expected to do.
You also need to be sure that you're not stepping on anyone's toes or unintentionally insulting the legacy of your predecessor - especially if that person was popular and loved by the team.
So yes, you might know how to do things better, but keep your sarcasm at bay and take your time before introducing changes.

Listen and learn
Yon won't be able to figure out things on your own. In every new workplace, there is more than meets the eye.
Talk with your team and coworkers and try to learn as much as possible about the big-picture goals, the back stories of projects, and the evolution of various tasks and duties.
This process will help you make more informed decision.
For example, instead of basing your solution on something that was tried and failed in the past, you will be able to know why it didn't work out and propose an insightful solution that takes the past failure into account instead of repeating. In addition, you will save yourself the embarrassment.

Solicit feedback
Feedback in the early days is crucial to your success. If you're new in a workplace, supervisors and coworkers may be gentle in delivering their constructive criticism. That is why you must be attentive and listen closely to their hidden messages.
If what you thought to be a fantastic idea is said to be "good," and might be taken into consideration later, don't push it too much. But get as much understanding as you can regarding the circumstances of its potential implementation or not. By doing so, you will be able to gauge the feasibility of your ideas and know the business current and future needs.

Get priorities
One mistake that many new hires do is being sidetracked by what they are good at rather than focus on what the company wants to do.
If you did something in the past that was a great success, do not rush into introducing it in the new place, unless it is one of your duties.
Appearing to lack the ability to identify business priorities is a big mistake early on and always. So keep your enthusiasm in check and avoid jumping on a project that drains your resources in the wrong direction.
Having said that, pick a couple of easy changes that can be implemented successfully and award you with this needed positive impression.
Plan them with the key staff of your team to make sure you're not blindsided by any issues or obstacles that you are not aware of.
Make sure you give these people credit. By doing so you will show that you can bring in changes, work with others without disrupting others' workflow or boundaries. This early success also will help you have more time to study and roll out more complex projects successfully.

Getting started as a manager

  1. Learn about the business and the teams
  2. Ask questions and gather information
  3. Respect others including your predecessor
  4. Bring viable changes


The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.


This article was originally published in Gulf News (UAE) dated 6th May, 2017


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