First-time managers often get no training or get buried in it. This peer-created checklist helps new managers make a great first impression, avoid missteps, and quickly help their team achieve great things together!


  • You’ll be in the spotlight, watched by your new staff and your bosses
  • Even if you used to work with your staff as a peer, they’re going to treat you differently
  • You’ll now feel rewarded by your team’s growth, not by your personal accomplishments

30 Days Before

  • Read the Pledge of Managerial Power: work on humility and confidence
  • Complete the Milwaukee Model Self-Assessment for your strengths and gaps
  • Gather facts—not gossip—about your staff
  • Understand the team’s work processes and tools and know where to get resources
  • Anticipate the questions your staff might ask

The Week Before

  • Meet your staff individually and ask, “What’s one thing you would change?”
  • Rehearse your Day One script: Their questions. “What should we focus on first?”
  • Decide what you’re going to wear and how you’re going to conduct yourself


  • Hold the introductory meeting
  • Talk about a mistake you made—so they know it’s OK to try things
  • Don’t announce any big changes (but start thinking about it)

The First Week

  • Give each staff member equal time
  • Don’t criticize your company or bosses
  • Start your confidential employee journal (keep it at home)

The First 30 Days

  • Find real opportunities to praise your staff
  • Ask your boss, mentors, staff, and HR how you’re doing
  • Be honest about your mistakes
  • Revisit your Milwaukee Model Self-Assessment

The Picture of Success: You’re starting to see how you can help your people. You know what you need to learn. You feel good about coming to work. And you feel that, yes, management is your calling.

FOR THE MANAGER’S MANAGERS (“Teacher’s edition”)


  • Review the new manager’s Milwaukee Model Self-Assessment
  • Talk through the Pledge of Managerial Power
  • Run them through an established personality and behavior assessment
  • Ask if they think of management as a calling. Explain what that means to you
  • Prepare a list of resources, including about relevant work processes and information

Many of these ideas are described in Atoms & Orchestras.

Mentor Pair

Form a “mentor pair” with the manager’s boss and another experienced manager. Consider using an outside manager as the second pair member.

  • Enthusiastically convey the organization’s market position, mission and top goals
  • Reflect on the organization’s culture
  • Show support:
    • Share stories of your own failures, recovery, and growth
    • Convey that each manager will have their own unique style
    • Talk about running effective meetings (see inset). Listen!
    • Discuss the need to be observant and patient with any low-performing staff
    • Don’t bury them in ideas and advice
  • Listen to the new manager rehearse their First Day talking points and activities


  • Expect the first-time manager will make mistakes. Turn them into lessons
  • Find opportunities to praise them
  • Take time to listen to them vent
  • If they’re doing really well, give them new challenges


  • Review the initial Self-Assessment after 30 days or so
  • Keep the Human Resources department in the loop
  • Decide how long the Mentor Pair should be active
  • Find the new manager an external peer group for career-long learning

The mentors eventually need to ask the hard question, “Did we make the right choice?” A mistaken hire or promotion is the organization’s fault. If it’s not working, help the manager find a new and better position.

Relevant Terms in The Index

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