6 Essential Steps Every New Manager Needs to Take in Their First 90 Days

July 17, 2022
6 Essential Steps Every New Manager Needs to Take in Their First 90 Days

Going from a team member role into a manager or team leader position is quite a transition. You’re not only getting new tasks and responsibilities, but you’re moving away from a hands-on role as a team member into a more supportive role as a manager. You’re no longer the person executing the strategy, but making sure that your team members are. That’s why new managers need to take the following 6 steps that will help them have a successful first 90 days on the job.

6 essential steps for new managers to take in their first 90 days

The first 90 days for a new team leader are crucial. These first 3 months will make or break their managerial role and it’s up to the managers to do everything they can to make it a success.

1. Make the onboarding stage as smooth as possible

The 1st step is the onboarding stage. The manager will need to adjust their approach to the new responsibilities according to the following 2 things:

  • If they were promoted internally: If the manager has been promoted internally, it means that their previous position was possibly as a team member of the same team. Here, they need to set up a clear team member-manager boundary. They have been hierarchically the same as all other team members, but now they are in charge of the entire team’s success so they need to start acting accordingly.
  • If they were hired externally: If a manager has been promoted from outside the company, then they first need to understand the culture of the organization and the team. On top of that, they should make clear to all the team members that they have the industry knowledge and that they understand the scope of work.

The point of the onboarding stage is to make it as smooth and as fast as possible so that everyone can start operating at their maximum efficiency levels. And to do so, the manager will need to implement the next step.

2. Get to know your team members

GTKEO stands for Getting To Know Each Other. It’s the manager’s responsibility to get to know all of their staff members, ensuring that they know what each team member’s strengths and weaknesses are. There are 2 things the managers should do in this stage:

  • Have team-building activities. With team-building activities, the manager will improve the team’s cohesion, work atmosphere, and culture. A team-building activity will help make every single person feel like they’re a part of the team.
  • Have a 1-on-1 meeting with every team member. The new manager should have a 1-on-1 meeting with every team member to get to know them better, see what their professional aspirations are, and understand what their personal growth plans are. With it, the manager will understand who their members are and what their strengths are.

Only when the manager knows how each and every single team member operates, will they be able to fully use their talent, experience, and capabilities to their full extent.

3. Plan objectives and goals to help the entire team succeed

The 3rd step is all about planning the activities and making sure that the entire team succeeds in accomplishing their objectives and goals. With the getting-to-know-you and onboarding stages complete, the manager now knows how each of their staff members operates, what their strengths and experiences are, and what their weaknesses are. Now, it’s up to the manager to push their team members to set professional and personal goals that are just beyond their current capabilities. This will serve as fuel for team members, making them grow in the process (both professionally and personally), while at the same time achieving company objectives. The manager should use 1-on-1 meetings with team members to co-create these plans so that the team members have accountability for the plan. It’s about co-creating goals where both the company and the team members will benefit from it — a win-win situation.

4. Establish tracking systems for team members

The next essential step in the process is to establish tracking systems. The manager will need to set up tracking systems so that they know what team members did and to see how productive, effective, and efficient every team member is. The tracking tools need to have an optimal tracking frequency — if it’s too often, it will interfere with tasks and the team members will be less productive because of it. If it’s not often enough, then the reports will lose their meaning since there won’t be time to pivot and change something that isn’t working. So the manager needs to find the optimal tracking frequency that works for their team and they need to stick to it. The employees will test out the new tools being implemented as just another tool that might lose its function and meaning in a couple of weeks. As a manager, you need to show your team members that this tracking tool is here to stay. This leads us to the next step in the process.

5. Give and receive team member feedback based on new changes

Evaluating is the step that makes or breaks the manager’s first 90 days. During the first 90 days, team members will consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) test your determination and resolve regarding your approach toward the team, the tools you're using, and the work ethic you're implementing. This is where the new manager can’t buckle under pressure.

They need to show the team members that all of the changes they implemented are here to stay. And the best way a manager can do this is by giving and receiving feedback. 

  • Giving feedback. The manager should give feedback to their team members according to the new systems they are trying to implement. The manager should do this often at the beginning, so that the team members learn how to operate under the new manager and realize that these are permanent changes.
  • Receiving feedback. The manager needs to be open to receiving employee feedback about their work and also listen to feedback when it comes to new systems that they have implemented. If the complaints are valid, the manager should adapt the system so that it suits all of the team members.

6. Set up rewards and recognition systems for team members

The first 90 days are about creating early wins and a suitable reward and recognition system can help with that. The new manager should revamp the current reward and recognition system and see if they can adapt it to the new system they are trying to implement. A reward and recognition system has 2 purposes:

  • Motivation to do certain actions. Use a reward and recognition system as a positive motivational force that will incentivize team members to do certain actions that are beneficial for everyone involved. Create a short reward and recognition cycle for your first 90 days (weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly) so that you can reward your employees and show them that they are on the right track.
  • Motivation to avoid certain actions. The manager can also use the reward and recognition system to motivate team members not to perform certain actions. New managers should focus on motivating employees to do certain actions. However, if the manager notices that a certain action is perpetually repeated (team members don’t reply to emails or are running late to work), they can also start motivating employees to avoid them.

These steps will help you succeed in your first 90 days as a manager

A new manager will need to implement these 6 essential steps that will help them set up early wins in their first 90 days.

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