True happiness involves the full use

of one’s power and talents.”

John W. Gardner


image of black woman first day at work

It’s your first day at work, and you’re ready to impress your boss.  First day, as a manager, that is.  You see, you received a promotion last month – praised be to the Most High!  The joy was immense and you looked forward to your first day.

But now that you are at your new desk – leading former colleagues – nerves have set in.  To say butterflies are dancing in your belly, is an understatement.

What should my leadership style be?

Should I still eat and chat with these guys?

Will they respect me if I remain their buddy?

Am I really good at what I have been tasked to do?


The questions whirl around your mind, leaving you breathless.  In reality, you reach for your glass of water, pondering your next move.  Well, grab your notebook and let’s chat awhile.

Here are the 5 things you could do to make your transition a lot smoother.


5 ways to impress your new boss

image of talking to the boss lady

Tip #1. On-point conversations & presentations

Let’s begin by putting you at ease.  Truth be told, managing others is always going to result in a better you.  That is, if you listen long enough to the feedback.  You will be tested to the core and, with guidance, you will triumph. That said, let’s get down to business.

Now, is the time to begin communicating clearly. When your boss asks you, “Hey, how is it going?” They really are not interested in why you no longer watch TV after the big switch off, nor why your children kept you up late at night.  They want to hear how things are, at work.

What to do? 

Use these 3 points to structure your conversation.  Let them know:

1] What’s working,

2) What’s not, and

3) What you’re doing about it & where you need their input/help. Period.

This is a “work leadership conversation” that shows you are on top of things. Begin having these on-point conversations, and maintain the same structure in formal presentations. It would do you well to place dramatic domestic stories on the back burner for a while.


Tip #2.  Quick turnaround. Results are what they want to see.

Speed is always impressive. Except when you are standing on a railway track with a train heading in your direction!

Speed and accuracy is the mark of efficiency. Is this a personal brand you want to strive towards? Only you can tell whether this will help.

Speed with lots of errors, is the making of a disaster. “Can’t she just get things right, for once?!” is the new song that will be played over and over again, of course, in your absence.

No one likes correcting shoddy work, delivered very quickly.


Tip #3.  Know your numbers, track them and understand them

image of accountant funny guy

This is the difference between leaders and followers in the workplace. Leaders know what to track and have the data at their fingertips.  Followers finger-point and blame their lack of knowledge on Accounts who did not keep them updated.

Are you a fundraiser? Here are some numbers to have at your fingertips.

How many donors do you have on board? How many are in the pipeline? How many have committed to staying for another season? What is the dollar value for each category?

Know and own your numbers.  Yes, finance or accounts may be in charge of keeping the books. However, the onus is on you to confirm that what they are representing is accurate.

What to do?

Include the finance person in your fortnightly team meetings and ensure you are both on the same page before s/he prepares the monthly accounts. Create and circulate a Numbers Storyboard that is meaningful to your team and the company at large. You could even get creative and convert it into an infographic.

Where do you want the numbers to head? Have a target, communicate it and track it.


Tip #4.  Keep your boss in the know.  No surprises, please.

We all love surprises, don’t we?

NO. Not in the workplace, please.

The last thing anyone wants to come across – somewhere in some forgotten cardboard box in the corner of the office – is an elephant that should have been dealt with eons ago.  Surprises lead to unpleasant results, including the “downgrading” of your perceived abilities in the eyes of your colleagues. This is fatal.


Potential reasons (a.k.a. excuses) for why we unleash surprises in the workplace

-I just did not have the time to deal with the matter.

Q: Did you tell anyone about it?

-It was one of those weeks where everything just landed in my in-tray

Q: Did you discuss work overload with your boss?

-It was beyond my current knowledge. I was simply clueless on how to tackle the matter.

Q: Did you request the hiring of an intern on temporary basis who is skilled in that area?

-It fell off my radar, I forgot about it.

Q: There’s room here for time management skills – how do you ensure tasks don’t get forgotten?


What to do?
image of mouse
Don’t die alone.
The minute you spot a mouse, don’t hide it in a drawer.
Deal with it.
Don’t know what to do? Own up.
Ignore it, and the mouse will surely become an elephant.



Tip #5.  Be visible. Make your boss shine

It’s often been said that:

Performance + Effective alliance building = Visibility = “Superstar” status


Performance + Ineffective alliance building = Invisibility = “Forgettable” status


Do you know how to build alliances and supportive networks at work?

Please note that this does not mean you have to be bubbly, gung-ho and macho, all the time.  There are lots of practical ways of increasing your influencing skills and visibility ratings – without incurring the wrath of your colleagues.

Let’s talk frankly for a moment. As a manager now, your work is going to be 70% nurturing, guiding, developing and inspiring and 30% doing. Should you get bogged down in execution, you risk losing the perspective you need to be strategic and creative in taking the company forward.

It’s a bit like being so close to the trees, that you can’t see the forest.


What to do?

Q:  What is important to the company?

Q:  Where does your Boss need to shine?

Can you blend the answers from these two questions and create a potent mix of action points, that you can begin to immediately execute? Go ahead. Start writing. Brainstorm the answers. Let the pen keep moving till you’ve emptied your mind onto the paper in front of you.

Next. In a couple of days’ time, ask your boss to answer these 2 questions above, and note down the answers. Now, in the quietness of an early morning, spread everything in front of you and develop your action plan.

If the need to delegate & supervise is not part of your Managerial DNA, why not walk with a Coach who can help get the best out of you, confidentially and discreetly?

(We conduct Effectiveness Coaching for new managers on one-on-one basis. Please enquire.)



Tip #6.  Dress the part

We left this for last, because it is self-explanatory. However, it’s often said than done. It is now time for execution.

Visualize this: Administrative Police vs Regular Police

Who looks like they mean business, when facing a riotous crowd? Do you look like you mean business? Get the help you need in this area, as learning is a continuum. And we’re not done learning, till we breathe our last.


There you have it.  A few things to consider when starting out in a new role.

Practical to-do’s which can form your guide to impressing not just your boss, but also those around you.  It is vital that you live your best YOU daily – not just because someone else expects it, but because that’s what makes you, YOU.

Did you enjoy this article?

The secret of getting ahead
is getting started.
Mark Twain

Join our next WDS Africa Careers Seminar.

Making the Move! From Corporate to NGO

See poster below

WDS Africa_Corporate to NGO Seminar_Group Seminar
Seminar date: Your preferred date

Time: 5.00 PM – 8.30 PM

Venue: WDS Africa Boardroom, Kilimani

(text directions shall be sent to participants)


image of forum blue icon

Seminar Outline
Are you selling your skills effectively?
NGO-speak: Understanding the language
Players in the Kenyan NGO sector
How to penetrate this market
Why your CV needs an overhaul
6 CV writing tips for the NGO sector
Roles the NGO sector needs & recruits often for
How to position yourself effectively

WDS BUY GOODS No.891045 c

Payment details

Send 1,000/=pp  to M-Pesa BUY GOODS No.891045 when you book.

Pay the group balance later as advised. We look forward to hosting you!