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4 ways to succeed in your new leadership role

By Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland

With each new leadership role I’ve had in my career I have faced different challenges, each one bringing new people, processes and opportunities to make an impact. I recently moved into a new leadership position as UK&I Managing Director here at Hays, and so I know well how critical those first 100 days in a new role are.

Unfortunately many employees don’t have such a positive experience in those first few months. Almost half of employees surveyed for our latest What Workers Want report say they have left at least one job within the first 12 months because it didn’t match expectations set during the hiring process.

There’s a lot leaders can do to improve on this figure, from reconsidering their job adverts to updating their interview techniques, but there are also steps you can take as an individual to make your own first weeks and months a success.

Be ‘leadership’ ready

Most organisations provide some form of welcome material for new starters, but make sure you ask for anything you need to prepare. Almost half (48%) of senior management look for leadership biographies before applying for a role, so it’s a good idea to look back at these and get a head start on getting to know the key people around you. Most senior leaders will also have a social media presence, giving you a window into their opinions and interests, and perhaps some common ground you can use to help build your new relationship. Information like financial trading updates, annual reports and news announcements are also all useful at this stage.

Don’t just meet your team, listen!

Whether you’re a first time manager or experienced C-suite executive, gaining the support of your team is critical to your success. Schedule meetings with all your colleagues and reports, from senior managers to interns, to get an insight into the business and establish yourself as a manager who values the input of those around you. And make sure you listen!

Most people relish the chance to share their expertise, so go into these conversations with an open mind. Ask lots of questions and try and avoid the temptation to change or ‘fix’ everything immediately – use this time to gather information, make plans and work out who you need to support you.

Agree on your 100 day plan

You’ll have discussed the expectations of your role during the interview process, but make sure you are very clear on your specific objectives. It can be tempting in a new role to try and do everything at once, but that’s rarely a successful strategy and can lead to new job burnout. Be focused on what success looks like for you in the first 100 days by setting specific goals.

The most common reasons for management level employees leaving a job in the first year are because job ad content was incorrect or misleading, and misaligned expectations with direct management. Address issues like this as directly and early as possible.

Plan for the team you need today, and tomorrow

While meeting with your new colleagues you’ll no doubt be weighing up their skills, strengths and weaknesses and how they can best support your delivery of your objectives. Establish a structure for formal and informal meetings to keep everyone aligned to your goals and objectives from the start, and identify any potential skills gaps within the team.

For some new managers the first order of business is to recruit a new team to deliver a new project or function, or address known skills gaps.

To find out more about optimising your recruitment process to fill those gaps, and ensuring your own employees have a successful first 12 months and beyond, read our What Workers Want report.

About this author

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

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