New Manager: 6 Ways to Connect with New Employees

Are you a newly promoted manager or hired to lead a new team? Regardless of your experience level, every new manager has to meet with their team for the first time. How do you navigate this first meeting in a productive way?

Many managers default to basic icebreakers. “Name, job title, fun fact.” This is a good start but it’s not exciting. Instead of random interesting facts, try one of these 12 interactive questions instead. If you aren’t a fan of icebreakers, we’ve curated a list of 6 ways new managers can connect with their new teams.

The basic introduction

The simplest style is the basic introduction. You share your name, past work experience, and future expectations for the team. This form of introduction is common but often one-sided. Don’t fall into the trap of being the sole speaker for 40 minutes straight. Your employees will feel disengaged and both sides won’t learn much about the other.

Instead, open the floor to questions with a Q&A style presentation where your team can ask any questions and rank the ones they want to hear the most. With this format, your team learns the most pertinent information about you and you gain a better understanding of their values and concerns.

To further the discussion, ask a couple of questions back to your team. The easiest way to collect these responses is with a word cloud. Ask your team about their working styles, leadership preferences, and more. We’ve created a few Poll Everywhere activities that you can copy to your account. If you don’t have an account, consider signing up today.

Topics for a “Hello my name is…” meeting:

New manager assimilation

A formal, structured way to introduce a new manager is the New Manager Assimilation program. According to Nielson Group, a new manager assimilation program is designed to build the relationship between leader and team in the matter of hours through open communication.

After 3-6 weeks of getting acquainted, set aside time to host your new manager assimilation and review the feedback together. Prior to the event, have your team answer questions about their management preferences. Take time to answer questions about your leadership style and have an HR representative collect the responses. Set aside 2 hours for the event to give ample time to review and discuss the feedback.

Questions to ask your employees:

  • How can your new manager help this team be successful?
  • How do you want your manager to communicate with you? Email, messenger, phone?
  • How would you describe this team in one word?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
  • What challenges face your team that your new manager needs to know about?

Questions about you:

  • What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
  • What are the values that drive you?
  • What has been your career progression?
  • What are your expectations of staff work/life balance?
  • What are your top priorities and what do you see as the major obstacles?

Your HR representative should compile the feedback and moderate an open conversation between you and your team. The key to a successful new manager assimilation is creating an honest two-way conversation.

Initial one-on-ones

One of the best ways to get to know your team is with one-on-ones. Taking the time to understand an employee on a personal level will eradicate future misunderstandings and miscommunications. If you can understand each employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and priorities, you’ll know how to navigate the entire team. You’ll know who works best together, how to mitigate conflicts, and how to communicate in a way that everyone can understand.

The best time to hold one-on-ones is within the first month of your new position. You want to utilize the time you have in the beginning before they can make their first impressions of you and before your schedule is filled with other meetings. Set expectations early on so they know what to expect from you.

Team-building happy hours

Meeting a new manager is intimidating – create a casual atmosphere to better get to know your team. Hosting a team an in-person or virtual happy hour doesn’t always have to involve alcohol. You can invite your team for dinner or play fun trivia games. Playing competitive strategy games or team bonding activities can reveal critical information about your team’s individual personalities. You can see who is competitive and who communicates well under pressure. A happy hour can help you bond with your team and create a comfortable environment for them to get to know you.

“Tell me something good” kickoff

This is a fun and easy way to bond with your team. Gather your team in a circle and pass out sticky notes with every employee’s name. Then follow these steps:

  • Give everyone a paper with someone else’s name
  • Ask each person to write something good about the person on their paper
  • Collect the notes and redistribute it to a new person
  • Have each employee take turns reading the name and nice comment on the paper

Once everyone has shared, summarize the positive attributes and highlight any themes. This exercise is great because it shares positivity between your team while helping you better understand their strengths. It is important to note the types of comments that are offered, such as which person received work-based praise or who received personal comments.

A card from everyone who knows you

We can share fun facts about ourselves but why not hear it from someone else? Instead of answering the question “How would your family and friends describe you”, just ask them! Collect their feedback in this virtual e-card template and share it with your team. You may be surprised with what your significant other or best friend has to say about you. Your team may find it easier to relate to you personally if they hear about your parenting style or your drive for perfection.

Are you going to try any of these ideas? Whichever you pick, the most important takeaway is creating a two-way conversation and collecting feedback from your team. Try creating your own polls with Poll Everywhere and start engaging your employees today.