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I have a complicated situation I have never had to face before and am hoping for some sound advice on how to proceed.

I have recently been selected as the (new role) General Manager of Operations in an international company which is growing rapidly. My boss is the CEO and I will have some 5 country managers, business developement, legal and one or 2 more as directs. This is a great change and a wonderful challenge but while I have been warned of some complicated situations, for my very first day on the job, the CEO has set up a 3 day meeting/event with all my directs, including my country managers. (I am still working for my former previous employer and start on the 30th)

I have extremely limited knowledge of the company, let alone the problems, numbers, or even the business day to day. How am I to behave in this situation? As the friend and buddy? The firm boss? Someone who is not sure about the questions they may have?..... :?

Any suggestions or comments are more than welcome here and I look forward to reading them. :idea:

Wish me luck!

Andrew

Mark's picture

It's too hard to say yet, but for now:

Is the CEO going to be there? Is he going to run the meeting? Are you setting the agenda, or is he? What guidance have you been given?

Sounds like you need to be talking with the CEO about purpose and agenda and roles, in order to gain clarity.

Mark

ponzoa's picture

Thanks for your reply Mark,

Yes, He has set the agenda is going to be there and I expect, he will run the meeting. Previously my role (nor did business developement) did not exist and he looked after operations personally.

He hasn't given me any guidelines yet as we have reached an agreement so I can produce a handover in my current role (Sth European Ops Mgr) which still requires dedication until I leave. The meeting was going to start a few days after I started but apparently, other obligations for some caused a change in dates to start it on the same Monday as I start. It's also true that I set back my start date 4 weeks to be able to perform the transition.

I am convinced there are no bad intentions in my new boss and I also understand the urgency of my new role for the company. I have listened to a lot of your podcast (not all of them [i]yet[/i]) and think that they are great and really are helping but, I couldn't find anything about a first day on the job and presenting yourself to your directs, managing their expectations, setting standards from the beginning when you don't know what their's are,... I am expecting tough questions or situations like; What are you goignt o do about...? what do you think of...? It should be like this! We should... I need..

Thanks for your guidence guys.

Kind regards,

Andrew

Mark's picture

You've got to start with, "what's my role in the meeting?"

I'm a little worried that he's going to be looking over your shoulder a LOT, and while I don't know the agenda, I guess you do and it should tell you if he's going to be laying out strategy, etc. I don't think that's the best way for him to help YOU lead the group, but that's water under the bridge now.

I always say the first rule is to FIT IN. I would add to that here paying close attention to your new team and spending time in the evenings visiting with as many of your new directs as you can, getting to know them. Maybe a dinner with everyone if the boss isn't going to join you (or even if he is), and individual sessions if you can cram them in.

I think that while there is a negative of him overdoing it (running the meeting himself, since he used to have this stuff, undercuts you as leader on day one), there's also the positive of knowing what he wants and having everyone in the same place.

It wouldn't hurt to have ready a short presentation on "this is how I work", outlining one on ones, feedback, coaching, your meeting style, etc... we have future casts addressing this important topic.

Mark

ponzoa's picture

Great tip on having a presentation ready. I'll do that over the weekend.

So it's clear then, with the little vague info I have given you, the suggestions shall be adheared to. :-) Fit in, probe where possible, and prepare the ground for the foundations of how "I" work. Get some personal time up if able.

I'll be able to let you know how I went in August and let you know what went wrong & what went right.

Thanks again for your feedback Mark. If you're ever in Spain, look me up & you'll have a cold beer (and some tapas) waiting for you.

I look forward to your podcast.

Regards,

Andrew

jhack's picture

Andrew, I've never been in your shoes but I have had the new Exec come in over me.

You won't know everything, so ask good (maybe tough, but fair) questions of your directs. Don't jump to conclusions or judge. Listen carefully. When appropriate, share your thinking (your experience and expertise are valuable).

Simple things like calling people by their names, asking their opinions, asking about their lives and what's important to them all add up to "fitting in."

You can do all these things whether the CEO is a strong presence or not, and your directs will get the message: you care, you're thoughtful, and you're going to be a good leader.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Andrew

Can I chime in with the podcast I mentioned in another forum thread titled your first 100 days?

http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1699

I think in this cast, they also talk about how to answer questions like the ones you expect might be thrown at you. The recommendation (and others can please chime in here as I know I am botching the phrasing) were to temper some of your answers like... "Great question "insert name here." Instinctlively, I would answer you like ... however, being brand new here, I can't possibly have an insiders perspective. I want to talk more about this with you, so can you send me a note and we can table it for the O3s or the team meeting?" etc.

Hope this is helpful

*RNTT

ponzoa's picture

Some very valid points there guys jhack. I have already taken notes and will use these points. Tough but fair questions! Hmmm, I can think of a few of those.

RNTT, great post. Actually, Mark recommended I do a small presentation in which, I will try to fit in at the end, maybe at the start (not sure yet) those exact five questions in an excercise.
[list]1 - Tell me the 3 most important things about this company that we need to preserve and why?
2 - Tell me the 3 most important things about this company that we need to change and why?
3 - What is the thing you hope I do most as COO?
4 - What is the thing you are most concerned that I might do as COO?
5 - What advice do you have for me? [/list:u]
It could give me great material for my first one on ones also. Good comments there too.

A couple of quick easy questions. What are O3s? Would you suggest the 5 questions found on http://www.manager-tools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1699 be done when they know me more or less? That is to say, at the beginning of my part, or towards the end (considering I have a part/presentation)?

Regards,

Andrew

asteriskrntt1's picture

Hi Andrew

Glad I could be of help. O3s are One on Ones (the three Os). The full podcast can be found at http://www.businessweek.com/mediacenter/podcasts/climbing/climbing_09_15...

I am in a bit over my head with giving a COO advice on establishing fit. However, a big component of what they said in this cast was do a lot of listening. I don't think you will establish fit in this round of meetings.

If you do the presentation (a galactically SMART suggestion by Mark), you might want to introduce the concept of the questions and that you will be meeting with whomever over a period of time. I would not get into it at the meetings themselves as people won't be open enough until they have developed trust and think they understand your management style.

*RNTT

jmp's picture

Hi Andrew,

I am in the same situation than you next month I start my new job like plant manager.
Next week I will have one day of meeting with my boss and my futur directs.

I decide that I will make a small presentation when I will try to explain to my people
Who I am
Where I come from
What I belive (the way I manage)

I think in the first meeting you must becarfull of what you say because people will look at you because they need to know who you are.

I recomand you the book : The first 90 days by Michael Watkins
You can also listen the audio book : You are in charge now what

Bye

If you are looking for some advice I recommande you this book :

jmp's picture

Mark an guys,

Next month I will start in a new position like plant manager.

I will have to manage one Production Manager (PM) who wanted to be the plant manager (my boss didn´t want and told him why : lack of management skill).

This PM are for the moment running the factory because my bos fire the old Plant manager 3 months ago and there was nobody else to run the factory since I will be there.

Next week we will have the first meeting where my boss will present me to all the staff.

During this day the new boss want to give a feedback to the PM about his behaviour (bad communication with the purschasing departement) and about the fact that he must now consider me like his new boss.

My boss want to give him this feedback with me.

I think that it is a bad idea to do it with me. In my opinion my boss must to close this 3 months relation with him alone.
I am afraid that if I start my first day to focalize on this PM I will send a bad message to all the time : There is two boss.

What is your opinion ? Do you think I must participate to this feedback cession ?

ponzoa's picture

Thank you RNTT. I will listen to the podcast over the weekend and pop in to this forum with any questions which could come up. It sounds like the best approach is a passive appearence one. That is, not too assertive, listen, get feedback & get to know them and let them get to know me a little.

Thanks for your comments Penven. I agree with your points for the presentation and I will surely look up the book. Thanks.

It sounds like you are in the same company and being promoted. If that is true then you have a strong advantage over me because you know the company, the companies objectives, rules, culture and more importantly, you should know at least most of the people and their abilities.

I would say that you have to be a little careful here because you have jealousy in the team (the one who was not promoted) and if you go too strongly against him, or make him feel insecure, he could start making your life difficult if he hasn't already. Try to bring him on your side by asking for his feedback or opinion in meetings (and one or 2 others also - not only him). If you think he would be capable, try to bring him up as your future replacement so when you are promoted again, he will have your skills and knowledge and you won't leave the position vacant as they did with you now.

I am sure someone would have other comments, or maybe even clearer ones. right guys?

I would recommend also going over the podcast from the 21st of May, 2007 and the 28/5/2007. "How to run your staff meeting". Good luck.

Andrew

LouFlorence's picture

Penven-

Unfortunately, your boss is setting up the meeting. If you object to his meeting then your relationship with him suffers. That is not the best way for you to start out in your new position.

Go to the meeting. After that, establish your own relationship with the production manager.

regards,
Lou

ponzoa's picture

Hi Guys,

Well, I've now pretty much settled in and starting to gather control of my obligations. Thanks for the tips. The podcast have been a great help (and I'm sure they will continue to be). I can really see a lot of the things mentioned in the podcast and if the fees are too high and you're willing to travel, we might get some coaching done on some key points.

I'l probably come back with some questions on international management (boarders, time zones, cultures, chain of command HQ-Subsiduaries....) Meanwhile, Thanks for your help.

Regards,

Andrew

jhack's picture

Thanks for the update. We like to hear how things work out, and those of us on the forum can learn from the details you provide of what you learn along the way.

John