First 90 days are critical for newly placed manager or executive

Dear Joan:

I am a new manager.  I manage a small business but I find it hard to know if I am too strict, or too easy, with my managing style.  Can you give me ways to measure how I'm doing?  


I’m encouraged by the fact that you are asking for measures for good leadership! Many small business managers are so focused on growing the business and getting the work out the door, that they manage as an afterthought. Unfortunately, they start to ask these questions when they run into trouble managing their staff, which is then harder to resolve. 

Here are some practical and proactive ways to measure your leadership style: 

  • Do employees know what you expect of them, even when you are out of the office? If you can leave on vacation, for example, without constantly checking in to make every decision (or manage the crisis du jour), it’s a good sign that you have been clear about what you expect and have given them the freedom to act. 
  • When you return to the office, do they proactively fill you in on what they did, why they did it and what the outcome was? This is your cue to praise their efforts or coach them about alternatives they could have taken. Usually this means they want to please you and they aren’t afraid of being punished if they take well-intentioned action on their own. If they are only doing what they are told and not a lick more, it’s a sign you are either a micromanager who expects perfection, or too strict or punitive. 
  • When you hold regular meetings, your staff is at ease and is open about issues, ideas and concerns. If few people talk, it’s a bad sign. You could be too authoritarian—imposing your ideas, instead of soliciting ideas from others and getting buy-in when it’s needed. 
  • There will be little gossip and speculation about company happenings. This will indicate that you are a regular communicator, who is open about what is going on. If you keep all the information in your head, or only dole it out on a “need to know” basis, you will create a lot of water cooler talk and disengaged employees. 
  • Your employees handle the customer the way you would. This is a sign that you have put the right standards and parameters in place. In addition, this tells you they know what the company’s goals are. If they are indifferent, rude, or have the wrong response, it is a signal that you haven’t done enough communicating about the company’s goals, mission and values. It also indicates that you may not be modeling what you are preaching. In other words they will treat customers the way you treat them. 
  • Your staff will treat each other with respect and professional courtesy. If there are a lot of employee conflicts, it can be a signal that you are too soft. Frequently, employee conflicts break out because someone is not performing well, someone’s poor work habits are tolerated by the boss, or there are inconsistent standards. When a fair and just leader is at the helm, disagreements are resolved quickly and everyone knows where the boundaries are. In short, there is consistency and accountability. 
  • Your employees aren’t angry or shocked when you give them feedback. This is a signal that you are giving them feedback, or coaching, often enough and preserving their self-esteem when you correct a mistake. Feedback should be as common as the give-and-take that occurs when an assignment is delegated—done in the spirit of helpfulness, and to get the desired work outcome. 
  • Your staff recruits others to work there and unplanned turn over is low. This is the ultimate sign that you are a manager who people want to work for—and with.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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