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6 Ways to Win Friends and Influence People as a New Manager

Important do’s and don’ts to ensure success as a leader.

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BY Charles Edge - 03 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Call it the New Sheriff in Town Syndrome.

You're a new manager at an established company or your own startup. You think of yourself as a fixer, so you quickly set out to implement changes or new processes, often bringing in ideas from your old company.

Whoops.

While making improvements should be the goal of any manager, you need to be careful. It's easy to come across as over-aggressive and disruptive, and you could end up alienating many of your colleagues.

Don't be that person.

Here's a six-step plan for working with your organization rather than against it as you seek to make an impact.

1. Don't make any changes immediately.

I've had staff (managers and individual contributors) come in and immediately want to bring over ideas from their old organizations. And many of those ideas were awesome.

But I usually tell them to write down the ideas and wait 90 days, and then we'll book a meeting to review. You need to get to know your new startup or company for a few months before you can start trying to change it.

2. Make a plan that's as comprehensive as possible.

Once you review proposals for, say, a new business process, look at the cost versus benefit. Carefully look at how any single change can reverberate through the entire organization, and whether it's worth it.

3. Plan for a productivity hit.

Remember that any big change needs time to take root, so factor in the short-term impact to productivity. Make sure there are contingencies, and be ready to drop any changes that aren't working out the way they were intended.

4. Ask everyone for their feedback.

Whether you're coming in to an established company at a higher level or founding your own startup, you're likely to mostly talk with managers. But it's the individual contributors who really pull the levers and are more intimately aware of what changes will mean.

Additionally, they may have recommendations to make processes even better Listen to the people in the trenches.

5. Incorporate feedback from everyone.

It's not just enough to ask for feedback. You need to actively take it into account.

Don't pay lip service. Incorporate people's views into the operations.

6. Be sensitive to employee perception.

Change is a touchy subject. You can dictate from above, but you'll need employees' buy-in to chart a new course.

Any perception that a new leader is trying to make things just like they were at their old organization is dangerous, as people are more likely to shrug them off. ("That may have worked at that place, but this company is different.")

By clearly communicating the reasons for change, and seeking and incorporating employee feedback, you're more likely to enlist support rather than generate resistance.

Finally, don't fall in love with change for change's sake. The amount of effort put into planning changes should be correlative to the impact those changes will have. That's not always easy to ascertain, but don't be that bull-headed New Sheriff in Town.

You can do this. You wouldn't be in leadership if this stuff was easy, would you?