How to Kill It In Your First 30 Days as a New Manager

Starting a new leadership role as a manager can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. The first 30 days on the job represent a critical window to set the tone and make a strong first impression. How you navigate your first month will largely determine your success and establish your credibility as a capable leader.

It’s important not to underestimate the significance of this initial period. Your first 30 days offer a prime opportunity to build connections, learn the lay of the land, clarify expectations, and create a plan to ramp up quickly. The choices you make early on will set the foundation for your ongoing effectiveness and ability to drive results with your team.

Many new managers make the mistake of just trying to survive those initial weeks. But to truly excel in your new role, you need a thoughtful 30-day game plan focused on priority areas like building trust, seeking feedback, and investing in your own development.

Follow the steps outlined in this guide to help ensure you crush your first 30 days and cement yourself as a trusted, skilled leader within your organization. The effort you put in early will pay dividends by enabling you to start strong and lead with confidence.

Step 1: Build Connections and Trust With Your New Team

gears, transmission, work representing building trust within your first 30 days as a manager.

As a new manager, your first priority should be to build trust and rapport with your direct reports. Schedule 1:1 meetings with each team member during your first week on the job. Use these meetings to ask questions about their role, responsibilities, challenges, and concerns. Be an active listener – your goal is to gain as much information as possible about each person and their needs.

Make yourself approachable and be open to feedback from day one. Let your new team know you want to hear their ideas and you welcome constructive suggestions. Admit that you’ll be learning on the job and you want to partner with them to succeed together. Building trust requires being vulnerable and authentic about the areas where you’ll need their support.

Step 2: Clarify Expectations, Goals, and Priorities

Your first 30 days as a new manager is the perfect time to set clear expectations and goals for your team. This step is crucial to ensure your team understands your leadership style and vision for the group.

Communicate your leadership style and overall vision for the team. Be transparent about your management approach and philosophy. Share how you want the team to collaborate and any changes you foresee.

Set clear objectives and key results (OKRs) for the team. Define 3-5 measurable outcomes you want to achieve in the next quarter. Get alignment from your team and executives on the OKRs.

Identify your top priorities and projects for the first 90 days. List the key initiatives, deadlines, and milestones to tackle in your first three months. Prioritize where to focus your energy and resources. Share this 90-day plan with your team and stakeholders.

Setting expectations upfront will allow your team to understand what success looks like. It enables everyone to work towards shared objectives in your first months as manager.

Step 3: Observe and Learn Your New Environment

telescope, binoculars, guy

In the first 30 days as a new manager, it’s critical to spend time observing and learning about your new environment. This includes understanding the organization’s structure, key stakeholders, processes, and pain points.

Shadowing team members is an effective way to learn about their day-to-day responsibilities and challenges. Schedule time to shadow each direct report, even for just 30-60 minutes. Ask them to walk you through a typical day or recent project. Listen and take notes on their responsibilities, challenges, and any frustrations. Make it clear you are there to learn from them.

It’s also important to meet with key stakeholders across the organization early on. Set up 1:1 meetings with your new manager, peers, senior leaders, clients, and cross-functional partners. Ask them questions to understand the organizational structure, political landscape, processes, and pain points. Look for opportunities to add value and make improvements.

Keep your eyes and ears open for any challenges or frustrations voiced by team members and stakeholders. Dig deeper to understand the root causes. Look for patterns and themes. As a new manager, you have fresh eyes to identify issues and propose solutions. Document any quick wins and larger opportunities you could address in your 30-60-90 day plan.

Immersing yourself in your new environment will allow you to gain crucial context, insights, and credibility that will set you up for success beyond the first 30 days.

Step 4: Create a 30-60-90 Day Plan

Creating a detailed 30-60-90 day plan is crucial for new managers to outline goals, milestones, and success metrics for the first 3 months in their new role. This plan acts as a roadmap to help you and your team stay focused and aligned on priorities during your onboarding period.

Within your first 30 days, outline 3-5 measurable goals you want to accomplish in your new role. These should align to the responsibilities and expectations set by your hiring manager. Common goals may include building relationships with key stakeholders, ramping up on your team’s projects, reviewing processes to identify opportunities for improvement, etc.

After your first 30 days, expand your plan to identify key milestones and success metrics you aim to hit by 60 and 90 days. For example, by 60 days you may want to rollout a new team meeting structure, and by 90 days have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place to track team progress.

Finally, schedule time with your manager to present your 30-60-90 day plan and get their buy-in. Incorporate any feedback to strengthen your plan before you finalize it. This ensures your manager supports your goals and priorities for your crucial first 3 months as you step into your new leadership role.

Step 5: Seek Feedback and Reflect

feedback, nature, response

As a new manager, you’ll want to check in regularly with your own manager and team members to get feedback on how your transition is going. Don’t wait for formal reviews – solicit informal feedback more frequently at first, such as after your first 30 days and again at 60 days.

Ask questions like:

  • How would you rate my transition so far on a scale of 1 to 10?
  • What am I doing well that you’d like me to keep doing?
  • What could I improve on?
  • Do you have any other suggestions for me?

Really listen to the feedback without getting defensive. Look for trends and patterns in what multiple people are saying. If there are consistent themes, create an action plan to course correct where needed. For example, if several people mention you don’t provide enough status updates, start scheduling weekly status meetings.

Ongoing feedback will allow you to refine your leadership style and avoid pitfalls early on. Being open and responsive to feedback will also help build trust with your team.

Step 6: Invest in Your Own Leadership Development

Investing in developing your skills and growing as a leader should be an ongoing priority, especially in your first 30 days. There are many ways to build your capabilities even while managing your new responsibilities:

  • Read books and articles specifically focused on managing for the first time. There is a wealth of knowledge from experienced managers that can help prevent common pitfalls. Some recommended books include First Time Manager by Loren Belker and The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan by George Bradt. Look for practical tips on building credibility, managing former peers, delegation, and transitioning into leadership.
  • Attend leadership training courses and workshops. Many companies offer internal development programs for new managers. If unavailable, look into local community, university, or online courses on topics like emotional intelligence, coaching skills, strategic planning, and project management.
  • Find a mentor or executive coach. A mentor can provide guidance and advice as you navigate your new role. Seek someone more experienced but impartial. An executive coach can also help develop critical leadership skills through regular coaching sessions.
  • Continue growing your management skills. Leadership development is an ongoing process. Be proactive about strengthening areas like communication, delegation, time management, and strategic thinking. Identify any skills gaps and commit to lifelong learning.

Step 7: Expand Your Network

As a new manager, it’s important to expand your network beyond just your immediate team. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Meet people in other departments and build cross-functional relationships. Attend meetings with other teams, have lunch with colleagues in different functions, and look for opportunities to collaborate. Understanding how your role connects to the broader organization will make you a more effective leader.
  • Join professional organizations or networking events. Local meetups, conferences, and industry groups are great places to build your network outside your company. Look for leadership development and manager-focused groups.
  • Get to know senior leaders. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and schedule time with directors, VPs, and other senior managers. Ask if they’ll be your mentor and seek their advice. Understanding their priorities will help align your goals.
  • Build relationships with HR. Partner with them on team issues like hiring, performance management, and career development. They can be a valuable resource.
  • Expand your network digitally. Join industry forums and groups on LinkedIn. Follow leaders in your field. Use social media to grow your connections.

Expanding your network takes effort but builds your visibility and sphere of influence. It also exposes you to new ideas and opportunities for growth. Make relationship-building a regular habit, not just a one-time activity. Your network is an asset throughout your career.

Step 8: Celebrate Early Wins

weekend, vacation, payroll

Celebrating early wins is an important way for a new manager to build momentum and morale with their team. As you complete your first 30 days, look for opportunities – both big and small – to recognize achievements and progress.

Early wins might include hitting targets, launching a new project, or completing a difficult task. Take time to call out team members who supported you in the transition period and helped you get up to speed quickly. Recognizing their efforts publicly at a team meeting or privately in a one-on-one, shows you notice and appreciate their help.

Sharing these quick successes more broadly with your network of colleagues, mentors, and stakeholders also generates positive energy. It demonstrates you and your team are off to a strong start. People enjoy hearing about wins and progress.

Finally, celebrating early wins, even small ones, is a simple way to build team morale and reinforce momentum. The first 30 days in a new role can be demanding for both the manager and the team. Taking time to recognize efforts and achievements helps the team feel encouraged and motivated to keep driving progress. Early wins set the stage for future success.

Step 9: Stay Organized and Efficient

As a new manager, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the influx of meetings, emails, and requests coming your way. Staying organized and working efficiently is key to making the most of your time in those critical first 30 days.

Block out time on your calendar each day and week to focus on your most important priorities and guard that time fiercely. Don’t let non-essential meetings or tasks creep into that block. Identify 1-2 top priorities each week and schedule time to make meaningful progress on them.

Be thoughtful about when you process emails and requests. Checking constantly can derail your focus. Instead, set specific times when you will respond to messages. For example, you could check emails for 30 minutes at 10 am, 2 pm, and 5 pm each day.

Keep detailed to-do lists and track progress against your 30-60-90 day goals. Break larger goals down into smaller, more manageable tasks. Review your lists at the start and end of each day to stay on top of what needs to be done. Maintaining organization and focus will set you up for an efficient and successful first month as a manager.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, making a strong impression in your first 30 days as a new manager is crucial for setting the tone for your leadership and establishing trust and credibility with your team. By setting clear goals, communicating effectively, being open to feedback, showing empathy, focusing on team building, and leading by example, you can create a positive impact from the start. Remember, the initial days are about listening, learning, and laying the foundation for future successes. By adopting these strategies, you will not only kill it in your first 30 days but also position yourself and your team for long-term achievements.