In theory...The new boss

Emma De Vita's weekly look at management-speak.

How to survive your first 100 days as a new manager is the subject of many business books. Insecurity and anxiety shift copies, so if you've just been promoted into your first managerial role, you won't be short of advice.

'Survive' is the key word here. Many first-time managers have visions of JR Ewing-style board meetings, with lots of slamming of fists on tables and frightened-looking minions jumping to attention. Unfortunately, the reality of your situation is likely to be very different.

According to Peter Fischer, author of The New Boss: How To Survive The First 100 Days, you can rely on having a few chewy problems to contend with as you switch on your PC that first morning. If your predecessor was a poor-performing layabout, then your new boss and colleagues might have very high expectations that you will turn their department around. If you're no Superman or Wonder Woman, then it's best you let them down gently, but quickly. Explain that you're in it for the long haul and that even Sir Alan Sugar couldn't shake up such a terrible situation in less than a year.

A second problem you might face is dealing with disappointed rivals and hidden competitors, who will need a firm hand. Know that your getting the job meant others were turned down. Failure can be a bitter pill to swallow, so watch out for those who might be pleased to see you do badly. Don't be so naive as to think that you can win them round with a sympathetic chat. Spend your time getting your boss and other powerful people in your charity on side, just in case someone does try to undermine you.

Once you've got that sorted, all you have left to do is analyse the situation you've found yourself in, establish a set of motivating goals, foster a positive climate for change, initiate change effectively and create a new workplace culture. Apart from that, it's all plain sailing.

 - Emma De Vita is editor of the books pages on Management Today

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