The new management job, how to get the right start?

By Volker Schulz

A large number of companies are currently adapting their internal organisational structures. From centralisation to the strengthening of regional units, different organisational concepts are being implemented. Due to these organisational adjustments, new leadership positions with challenging change assignments are created. This offers opportunities for managers to step into a new assignment. But the question is: how will managers succeed in their new leadership roles?

Therefore, it is very important for companies and managers to deal with the essential success factors for successful long-term integration.

My advice is to clarify the expectations between the new executive and the hiring manager. This sounds trivial, but it is often omitted in practice. Ideally, this comparison should have taken place before the cooperation decision was made, and should be discussed in detail between the hiring manager and the new manager during the selection process. My advice is that a further concretisation and adaptation to the current company situation should be carried out at the beginning of the assignment. Based on my experience following questions are crucial to answer:

  • Which results should be achieved when?
  • Which topics have to be solved with which priority?
  • Which structures and processes should be adapted or left?
  • Which financial and personnel resources are available?

The participants use these and other discussion points to differentiate their expectations and define common goals, as well as the way in which they will work together in the future. My experience shows that if this is professionally organised, expectation management will always be a multidimensional dialogue. Of course, employees, colleagues, customers and suppliers also have concrete concerns. This exchange, which takes place in the first weeks of the new task, should not and will not lead to the fulfilment of every expectation, but serves the new manager to gain a comprehensive picture of the current situation. This can then be used to develop their own strategy and the corresponding implementation concepts.

In the first phase of the new job, in which the focus is on understanding the new environment, the first contacts to key people in the new company are made. As a manager, you should therefore build sustainable professional relationships with people who will enable you to make a successful start in your new position. These relationships are a crucial factor. My advice is to take on a perspective which is not only in the hierarchical sense upward. It is important to consider the overall system of the company. Successful managers have asked themselves the following questions, among others.

  • Who has what role within my team?
  • In which management groups are decisions already discussed in advance?
  • Who makes important decisions and who has the right of veto?
  • Who is an important interface to my area of responsibility?

With this stakeholder analysis you can decide, in addition to motives such as sympathy, in which relationship the most scarce time is invested. Opportunities such as meetings, joint lunches or other institutionalised meetings should be seized. This can lead to the development of relationships with key people, understanding the corporate culture and making unwritten rules within the new company more transparent through discussions and feedback.

The time has now come to define the first priorities and goals in concrete terms, and to work on their implementation within the framework of a rationally comprehensible overall concept. What I see as important is to do that consistently and transparently. From my point of view it makes sense to communicate initial progress and to keep an eye on low hanging fruits during implementation. Following questions can help you set priorities and find focus.

  • In which areas can greater positive results be achieved through small changes?
  • Which existing strengths and competencies need to be channelled differently?
  • What works and can be strengthened?

By achieving initial results, my experience shows that the new manager will gain greater acceptance in the new environment and a positive momentum will emerge, which can be used for future tasks. If this desired state is reached, there is a high probability for a successful and long-term cooperation with the company.

Do you want to discuss the topic further? Please reach out to Volker Schulz, Partner & Director at Mercuri Urval´s office in Hamburg