Is there EVER a time when your team is more acutely listening to you than the first time you meet them? I suspect not. Don’t waste this chance. Don’t wing the introductory meeting. Have a plan.
Sincerity is crucial. Tell your team what your goals are in this job. Not many- three goals I’d guess is max, maybe four. I’d submit that it is okay to have one of your goals sound like this: “This is my first General Manager job, and I want upper management to see me as successful. By that I do not mean at the expense of others, but in truth it is important to me. It is my first time as a GM and I need to prove myself capable to them.”
Secondly, if true for you and I hope it would be, your next priority might be “I want you to think I am a good manager. I want you to think I am responsible, and able to make good decisions, and that I am a good listener, and that I care about my colleagues. I don’t want just position power; I want personal power. I want you to respect me, not just the title. I want to teach you and I want you to teach me. Really, I want to be the best boss you ever had.”
Third, I want us to be a team. By that I mean we all work with a set of common goals in mind. My hope is that the team will work collectively to do what we as a whole were hired to do, be it drive revenue, or clean rooms, or cook great food, or handle insurance claims or run a senior living center…. whatever the core missions of our department are, I want us to have that esprit de corps cascade all the way through our team as we work toward those goals. I want us to set high standards. Further, I hope that as a team, we’d in general look out for each other.”
Using the three examples above, I’d recap. I’d say “Those are my goals, to have senior management happy with my performance, to have your respect as a manager, and to have us, as a team, work collectively toward success.”
“I am utterly convinced that almost everybody responds to team-oriented environments. l guess most of you have experiences from sports teams or choral groups, or pep bands or drama classes or even your spelling bee team on some random afternoon in 3rd grade. When you played kickball at recess in 4th grade, it was fun to be on a team. When you are sharing success with a team, motivation just seeps into the culture.”
I’d suggest no other topics for this initial meeting with the team. Brief and to the point. Maybe the meeting extends as of course you’ll ask if there are questions. Yet limit your messaging.
The elephant in the room is do you mean it. Are those really your priorities? Will your priorities align with your behavior? If your behavior does not reflect the priorities you outlined, you’ll be branded a hypocrite quickly. I will grant you that some people have astonishingly awful bullshit meters and can be led by words that do not correspond to behavior; these people you will fool for a time. Actually it stuns me how so many bosses are taken at their word while they behave with impunity in some other manner. Some people never notice! But that is beside the point.
The counsel I’d give here is to aim high. Set aggressive goals for yourself in this new job. Desire to be stellar. Stating publicly an objective drives behavior. If you have any pride, it forces you to do what you said you were going to do. I am not advocating that your list be the three I just listed above- that is an example. In fact, that is NOT my list.
The last four jobs I started I only talked about four words; four words that I wanted to act as the filter for everything we’d do. Positive, Productive, Fresh and Enthusiastic. I defined what those words mean to me.
As an aside, it is also the basis of any interview I have had to get one of those jobs. Same message. No reason to write more about it- you can find it at this link:
Knock it out of the park when you meet your new team for the first time. Make it YOUR team Day One. My hope for you is that you grasp the opportunity and indeed the responsibility that comes with being a boss, and set priorities for the team, including for you, that make the experience a personal Camelot for each member of the team.