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How To Start A New Job As The Boss

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a friend who just began a new job. We discussed the challenges she faced and how she was going to approach the new assignment. 

Beth told me she worked very hard to not only meet and get to know her new staff of the new organization as well as understand the cultures and the way things got done. “People are fearful that you are going to make changes before you understand the way things work,” said my friend. While few new managers are foolish enough to come in and make dramatic changes right away, that is always the fear. 

Here are some of the things I suggested that she think about in her first weeks on the job. These tips will work for you as well. 

(1) in your first conversations, try to get a sense of who are natural leaders regardless of their title. While they might become future members of your management team, it is helpful to know who are the opinion leaders. 

(2) Get an understanding of what issues and roadblocks are in the way of your organization. Your list may be very different from what you were told in your job interview. 

(3) Throughout your ‘onboarding,’ make sure you are listening more than talking. Your new staff will want to know your vision, the changes you want to make, and how you are going to solve particular problems. At this stage, anything you offer might get you in trouble down the road. It will help if you learn more before making big pronouncements. 

(4) New leaders should plan a “listening tour.” I actually like to call it a “learning tour.” You need to hear from your direct reports, donors, your audience, etc. among the things you want to discuss:

  • What do you think we’re doing well?
  • What do you think we could improve?
  • If you could change anything about your job or about how we do business, what would it be?

(5) Take your time. You are in this for the long haul. “Many new bosses think that they have to make their mark quickly and dramatically to be successful—which leads to what I call ‘the bigfoot,'” says Mary Abbajay, author of Managing Up: How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss. Instead, new managers should start by getting a clear sense and understanding of the team’s needs, wants, and challenges, says Abbajay, “Take the time to learn what is and isn’t working and involve the team in creating better products and processes.”

Once you have a clear picture of what you face and how the organization works, you will have plenty of time to unveil your plan and work on its implementation. 


Looking for a job can be tricky.  I have reviewed thousands of applications in my career, so I know what will make yours stand out.  I’ve put all of my tips together in an online course. “Getting The Job You Want” Check it out.  I know it will help you be successful at your job search.

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