Breaking The Ice With A New Manager

November 5, 2013


You’ve heard about the new manager. His arrival was announced a few weeks ago. You and your friends at work have been speculating. Will he be different? What changes will he make? Soon enough, the day – and the new manager – has arrived. He is now sitting by the team. How do you break the ice?

First, be aware that your new manager will likely be hit with a tidal wave of new information. He has to figure out what the projects are, who are on the team and even simple things like finding the bathrooms. Some people are tempted to be the first to push their agenda on the new manager. While that may work with some people, it may also backfire on you. On the flip side, you may not want to fade into the background and wait until your new manager notices you.

Here are some tips on how to break the ice with your new manager:

Introduce yourself

Within your new manager’s first or second day, introduce yourself. Ideally, the new manager will have walked around and introduced himself, but there are many, many possibilities why he couldn’t get around to it. So, don’t be shy. Simply smile, welcome him to the company, and introduce yourself. Briefly tell him what you do – in one sentence.

Offer your help

Let him know that you are available to help him if he needs it. Don’t push it. Just ask him if he needs help with anything and follow through if he takes you up on it. More likely, he will not be ready to take you up on it. In that case, just let him know that you will be happy to help if he needs anything.

Suggest a 1-on-1

Chances are your new manager will want to talk with you 1-on-1, but he will probably not have time to set one up during his first week. Let him know that you are looking forward to having a 1-on-1 with him once he is a bit more settled. If you really want that 1-on-1, then let him know that you want one when he has some time. This will tell him that it is more urgent, so you will be put higher on his to-do list.

Follow up

At the end of his first week/start of second week, ask him how it’s going. Keep it casual and be sincere. If you see an opportunity to help, offer it. Otherwise, just reaffirm that you are happy to help if he needs anything. He may never take you up on it, but it still leaves a positive impression. Follow-up on the 1-on-1 request after three weeks, particularly if you really wanted it. Even if your new manager is not big on 1-on-1 meetings, try to arrange one within his first three months. You should have at least one short 1-on-1 meeting with him during that time.

As a member of the team, what are things you do to break the ice with a new manager? As a manager, what are some things your teams have done to break the ice with you? In both cases, what worked really well? What didn’t work?

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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