The first meeting with your team is extremely important…. and it is easy to blow it. In this podcast, I will share the best way to introduce yourself to your new team. Edited Transcript Below.
Welcome to the corporate middle I am your host Donald Meador my goal on this show is to give you actual advice you can put into action as a middle manager. Today we get to talk about a question I recently received. how in the world you are supposed to handle the first meeting with your new team. Weather you get promoted, or have to make a lateral move in your company chances are you have to stand up and talk to a bunch of people you have never met. This meeting is fraught with pitfalls that can potentially derail the first few months of your leadership so in this episode we are going to talk about a few best practices on how to handle it.
We have all heard the expression that you only have one opportunity to make a first impression. And that first impressions are very important. The reason you have heard that is because they do! We can’t help it. As humans, we have evolved to make snap judgments and first impressions are actually done by our unconscious brain. There is a really interesting study done by a team of researches representing Cornell and couple other university’s I will link in the show notes below. Where individuals were shown photographs of a person and told to make judgments, are they open are they agreeable are they attractive, do you like them. They rated all these characteristics based on just a photograph! They had them come back and meet those same people and interact with them for 30 minutes and talk and play a game. Then they rerated them. The score from the pictures and the real-life interactions were basically a match!!! The only thing that changed was whether they thought they were an extrovert or not! This is nuts. But it does tell you one thing you probably already knew. You are judged on your looks and body language. Immediately. Your team immediately has decided what they think of you as soon as you walk into a room! There’s a thought that is not so comforting in our PC world. People care how you look and how you present yourselves.
So here is the very first thing to keep in mind. Dress Nice! Do not show up in shorts and a t-shirt either even if it is casual Friday. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level up of the best-dressed person on your team. Everyone wears shorts and a t-shirt. Make sure you have a collared shirt. Everyone wears jeans. Throw on some khaki pants. Where you should draw the line is wearing a tie. If no one on your team is wearing a tie, don’t wear a tie. That is just trying too hard. We can be casual next week, but this week you are trying to make that great first impression.
Body language… Be happy! Smile. Talk about your excitement.
The entire point of this meeting is to just say hello and let the team get to know you a little bit and what they can expect from you. Here’s is a hint they don’t really care what you have to say or how great your accomplishments are. What they really care about is how this is going to directly affect them. They are all terrified of you whether they admit it or not. Everyone hates change especially when it is a change of bosses. “How is my day going to change” “Is this guy a jerk” You want to put them at ease.
The agenda you should follow:
Key point: introduce yourself not your accomplishments. They do not want to hear about all the great successes you have had over your career. It easy to think this meeting is about you but its not it is actually about the team and how you will interact with them. Go ahead and list your career progression you can give them a quick idea of your background but really it is all “Hi my name is Donald Meador and I am looking forward to working with everyone.
Talk about how excited you are to be a part of this team
Your next breath should be talking about how excited you are to be a part of this team. Tell them you have heard good things about them (even if that is not the case). You are looking forward to getting to know everyone and working together.
Here is something important. Never use possessive phrases like “my team” “my employees” “my projects” People hate that. I made that mistake in my first management job. On a few calls with other groups, I made reference to “my team” would handle this. Instead of saying our team. Seems trivial right? Someone is a little too sensitive. Maybe so, but during a one – on one feedback session I had at the end of my first year one of my team told me it bothered them when I referred to them like that because it made it seem like I was above them and not really in it together. Sure they could be over sensitive but honestly, it was a valid point. We succeed and fail together so if I can minimize that by saying words like our team and one of my team members. That is a pretty small price to pay to make them included. The truth is if you ever have to “pull rank” to get someone to do something, then you have failed as a leader but that is the topic for another podcast.
Highlight a few opportunities you see for this team to do.
Talk about some exciting projects on the horizon or cool thing you see this team doing. What amazing thing they get to be a part of. You want them to feel like they are a part of something bigger and amazing. If your company is launching a new product talk about it and how your team is a part of this success. Talk about where this team contributes. Point to purpose
- Are four times more likely to be engaged at work
- Enjoy a 42% more contentment overall and live up to 7 years longer
As a middle manager, you actually have the power through your leadership to help someone live longer!!! That is insane. Point to the purpose of this team. What problem do they solve for the organization? We can go in-depth on this but we will stay focused for now.
Tell them how the next few weeks will go
This is the most important section! Even the most cynical will listen to this because it directly impacts them. Tell them you are not here to come in and start changing everything, you are here to learn from them, and understand where there may be some opportunities to improve. (side note you may already know some areas but keep it to yourself). Tell them about meeting frequency. When you will setup staff meetings, You will have one on ones at least once a month. Also, cover miscellaneous HR stuff. If anyone already has vacation scheduled what do they do. Etc. how do they request off?
Ask for any questions they may have.
Open the floor for questions. In all the teams I have taken over haven’t been to many but be ready for a tough one. Have one on one meetings every twice a month for at least the first 2 months. The worst thing you can say is “my door is always open” come talk to me anytime! No one is going to come to talk to you they don’t even know you. You cant put the ball in their court. Go to them. Meet them where they are.
Thank you, looking forward to all of us working together.
Reiterate you are excited about the future but most importantly excited to work for that team.
SHORT and informal! You want this introductory meeting to ideally be 30 minutes or less. Why… because people hate meetings. You know what they hate worse long meetings. Everyone wants a boss that has short meetings. Set that tone starting off.
The take away you want them to have – I am glad to be here, and I am a part of this team.
Just as important as the initial meeting with the team as a group, Is the follow-up one on one meetings. You need to spend 30 minutes getting to know your team. These are easy sessions were you are starting the process of getting plugged into your teams. You ask them for questions, then ask them what they are currently working on. A key question to ask: What is the most annoying problem you face in your day to day job. This is going to provide key insight into where some of their cycles are being wasted and you could potentially help.
One Key thing to avoid.
One key thing you want to avoid….. Laying out your roadmap! Don’t walk in with all the answers. This may be the most annoying thing of all. I went through a period of my career where I had 5 different bosses in the span of 13 months. It was exhausting, but I did get a lot of introductory meetings. 2 of those bosses walked in self-assured and immediately started trying to change process and procedures. It was a complete disaster. Do you think any of the team respected those individuals or wanted to work with them nope because they came at it as an outsider and not part of the team? You have to lay the groundwork first so the team will trust you then you can start implementing changes. Doing the introductory meeting correctly goes a long way toward that.
First impressions are important and by doing a few things right, like controlling how you look and setting the right first agenda can set you and your team up for a successful partnership in the future. Focus on starting out on the right foot and it is going to make future interactions that much easier.
I love answering your pressing middle management questions on how to get through your day. We are going to figure out what works and doesn’t work. If you have a question you want me to answer or just a crazy story you want me to share head over to the thecorporatemiddle.com or just send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look forward to hearing from you and remember the reward for good work is just more work! See ya next time.
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