How to Succeed as a New Manager
Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

(Illustration by Richard Borge)

Almost half of all new hires fail in their first 18 months on the job, cites a study by Leadership IQ, a management consulting firm.  “What an executive does in the initial months of a new job will either secure or sabotage her success in that role,” says LaVonne Dorsey, executive career coach and human resources practitioner for Feroce Consulting.

Most of these failures are the result of mistakes such as failing to obtain buy-in, or focusing energy in the wrong areas, explains Dorsey. New hires are under heightened scrutiny, says leadership coach Kym Harris, Ed.D. “Job transitions can be riddled with pitfalls,” Harris states, “but, careful planning, preparation, and purposeful action can enable to professionals get off to a successful start.” Consider this 100-day action plan:

DAYS 1—6: Make proper introductions.
Meet key stakeholders, including your direct boss, subordinates, peers, and customers. Use your introductions and early actions to communicate what matters most, suggests  authors George Bradt, Jayme Check, and Jorge Pedraza in The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results (John Wiley & Sons; $25.95). Let your colleagues know who you are, what you stand for, and what you expect to accomplish.

DAYS 7—14: Ask 20 questions.
Start developing relationships to establish credibility and build support by soliciting stakeholders’ input. Conduct one-on-one interviews, in which Harris recommends posing several questions: What top three things does the company get right? What are the three things we need to change and why? What do you most hope I do? What might I do that has you most concerned and why? Can I count on your support?

DAYS 15—29: Size up the situation.
Understanding the culture is important. “The most effective plans take current organizational realities into account,” Harris explains. It’s important to assess the company, its challenges, and the manner in which it handles them. Understand how decisions are made and determine stakeholders’ tolerance for change, risk, and failure.

DAYS 30—44: Decide on a course of action.
Identify your prime objectives for the next 60 days. “Fix obvious impediments and pursue easy opportunities,” says Dorsey.  Create a “burning imperative,” advises Bradt, Check, and Pedraza,  which is a clear, sharply defined, intensely shared, and urgent understanding of what actions team members must immediately take, coupled with how those actions align with the larger vision and goals of the organization.

DAYS 45—59: Implement your plan.
“Stay fixed on your goal, but be flexible in your approach,” cautions Harris. Discuss implementation daily, while gauging progress and addressing setbacks with continual correction. Keep stakeholders informed.

DAYS 60—74: Celebrate early wins.
“Find every opportunity you can to show that you lead a team that delivers,” insists Dorsey. Regularly and rapidly, bring attention to your team’s accomplishments. Early wins give the leader credibility and provide team confidence and momentum. Recognize them publicly. Acknowledge both collective and individual contributions.

DAYS 75—100: Make necessary changes.
Leverage your success to support necessary changes in direction, processes, and staff. “Reflect on the last three months and assess the staff to determine that the right talent is in place,” says Harris.  “Decide what processes will change and what practices will be eliminated in an effort to sustain positive momentum.”

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.