One of the coaching assignments that I particularly enjoy is when someone calls me and says “Marguerite. I have a new job and I would like you to prepare me to start in the right way and to coach me through the first few months.” Indeed, I have one client who, as soon as she gets a promotion, calls me to coach her! It is always gratifying because I am able to:
- Help them prepare for their new role so that they are confident and self-assured.
- Plan their first day and week to make a positive and genuine first impression with their new team.
- Guide them through the minefields that are inevitable whenever a new person arrives.
- Help them set goals about who they are and want to be as a leader and the impact they want to make, including business results.
- Provide comfort and space to openly share challenges and emotions, as a salve to the loneliness new executives inevitably feel.
My most recent new leader coachee described the orientation the organisation had planned for her first day – basically, it was to be holed up in her new office, meet her management team and read manuals and reports. It didn’t feel right for her. So together, we crafted a plan for her first day and week that was in sync with who she is, and wants to be, as a leader. Not surprisingly, she reported in our next meeting that her first week had gone very well.
I urge you to take control of your first week. Here are 5 things to consider:
- What type of leader are you? What type of relationships do you want to create? And what first impressions do you want people to have of you? Are the answers to these 3 questions in alignment? Be honest with yourself.
- Find out exactly what the organization has planned for your first day and week. If it consists of reviewing documents, advise that you will do these after hours.
- Make meeting people your first priority. Walk around, introduce yourself to team members and customers.
- Make no judgements, just observe and ask questions. Yes, you are there to fix things (why else would they have hired you?) but you want to make your own assessment of the situation first.
- Have your support team in place – a coach or mentor, external to the organization. You need people who you know are in your corner to whom you can turn to vent, cry, seek advice and celebrate.
Much has to happen in the days and weeks following but a good first week lays the foundation for your success. You need to be a very active participant in defining what that first week is to be.
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