New Hires at Apple receive the same letter on their desk on their first day of work. It reads:
There’s work and there’s your life’s work.
The kind of work that has your fingerprints all over it. The kind of work that you’d never compromise on. That you’d sacrifice a weekend for. You can do that kind of work at Apple. People don’t come here to play it safe. They come here to swim in the deep end.
They want their work to add up to something.
Something big. Something that couldn’t happen anywhere else.
Welcome to Apple.
The letter aims to be inspirational and motivational to new employees. At the same time, the letter embodies the spirit and culture of the company. And, it subtly notes that employees at Apple will have exceptional expectations in terms of work ethic, hours, and innovative thinking.
In any industry, including law, the first day of work can be nerve wracking.
Will you get along with the other associates? Who will be assigned as your mentor? What expectations will senior associates have for their subordinates?
When you’re the boss, the anxiety is no different.
But, unlike other employees, a boss’s first day must appear confident, stalwart, and deliberate. If you’ve been hired as a new manager—promoted to managing partner or administrator of legal professionals—first impressions count.
So, below you’ll find a few ways new managers can prepare for that ominous first day at the firm:
1. Reflect on how your boss was first introduced to you.
How was your previous boss first introduced to you? Was it a company-wide breakfast? Was it one-on-one conversation? Was it through a mass circulated e-mail?
Think about the best way to reach each and every employee at your firm. Shaking hands with associates on the first day will be remembered. Hiding in your office to complete paperwork will be remembered, too.
Ask yourself, in the ideal world, what is the one thing I would like my employees to know about me? How can I get this across?
Your message may be written in a personalized letter, like Apple’s, on the desk of each associate. Or, it could be spoken at a meet-and-greet session. Whatever your medium, don’t improvise. Prepare in advance and implement your plan on the first day.
Aim to inspire, but hope (at least) to inform.
2. Prepare a Management Style Manual.
Come prepared with a manual that describes your management style.
Are you a morning person or a night person? Where does your personality land on the Myers Briggs scale? If your door is closed, what does that mean? If you’re frowning, what does that not mean?
A Management Style Manual should outline, honestly, the way you deal with people.
And, don’t forget to mention the pros and cons of your management style. For example, if you already know that you value independent employees and abstain from micromanaging, explain how this is to the benefit of your subordinates.
For instance, this type of management style allows younger associates to take on responsibility. The negative aspects, however, might include higher mistake making due to improper supervision. Therefore, encourage associates to ask questions and come into your office for advice.
Explain that you don’t micromanage, but, as a result, you also expect employees to seek help when needed.
Let your employees in on your petty (and not-so-petty) quirks—such as, you like coffee, donuts, and go-getters, but you don’t like tea, tardiness, or surprises.
If you’re not comfortable circulating the manual, you should at least create one. That way, you are aware of your own management style, both its advantages and its flaws.
3. Explain your priorities.
If you’re new to the firm, employees will expect to meet with you. Of course, you can’t be expected to see every employee right away. You can, however, be expected to explain when you will free up time to schedule these meetings.
Inform employees of your short-term plans for the firm as soon as possible.
Maybe you walked into a crisis, and there will be some immediate issues to resolve. Maybe you’re simply swamped with paperwork the first week. Whatever the task, make it clear what you’re doing and when. This will establish a sense of trust and intent amongst your ranks.
Remember that a boss’s first day often feels like everybody’s first day. For employees, a new supervisor means new expectations, new priorities, and new management styles.
But, if you bring optimism, preparation, and clarity of purpose with you as a new manager, you can certainly start off on the right foot.