New Manager Orientation

I promise a few people I would share my New Manager Orientation presentation. Yep, it’s exactly what you think it is. When I get a new manager, I give them an overview of how I prefer my work to be managed so I can do my best job possible.

I’ve done New Manager Orientation for about 10 years now. Early on in my career I had many managers in a short period of time. I found myself re-explaining certain things over and over again to each new boss, so I figured why not just present these things up front.

If nothing else, this presentation gives me with a fighting chance of getting things clarified early on in hopes of avoiding any surprises down the road.


  • Scored in top 99th percentile for intrinsically motivated early in my career at MSFT, e.g. I’m writing this blog post because it gives me a personal sense of satisfaction to share with others and not because I’ve been told to or will be compensated for doing so.
  • Worked on interpersonal skills since 2008 Insights Training — blind spot awareness
  • Took Management Psychology in grad school. There are 7 work style personality types: My strong preference is “Subject Matter Expert.” I’m most stressed in times of organizational chaos, e.g. waiting for a new manager (or skip manager) to be replaced.
  • When feeling misunderstood, I’ve learned to reset by 1. reminding myself of our common goals, 2. thinking where the other person is coming from, 3. verifying my outbound message was correctly received (e.g. did they hear me say “blue” or “blew”?)
  • I’m happiest when I can enter flow by producing content: e.g. Writing, writing code, writing about code, writing presentations or UX work
  • Impostor Syndrome was my #1, #2, and #3 biggest weaknesses for the first 10+ years of my career. For past 2 years, I’ve been trying different approach: Transparency about my fears. See my new series: This week in impostor syndrome

Short term dreams

In this section, I list all my short term personal goals to talk about how they might align to my manager’s goals and the company’s goals. This section gives me an opportunity to explain what being intrinsically motivated means. In other words, I’d rather be rewarded by being given the go-ahead for these opportunities than any bonuses, changes in title, etc.

A few examples are

  • Participating at conferences
  • Blog posts I’m considering writing
  • Growing technical skills — what projects I want to code

Being intrinsically motivated is also a double-edge sword. Telling intrinsically motivated employees no to their personal goals is analogous to telling an extrinsically motivated employee “Hey, remember that sales commission we promised you? We decided to use the money instead to buy new monitors for all the conference rooms! You should be happy since you get to use them!”

I care more about this conversation rather than plotting a course on checking all these off the list. FWIW, I’ve had very few managers fully understand what it means to manage an intrinsically motivated employee, so communication on both sides is critical.

Long term dreams

This section contains all the reasons why I still get out of bed in the mornings. Well, that’s not totally true. There’s only one reason :)

The only item in this slide is figuring out how to write another book again. If it wasn’t for the <bad word> Seattle weather, I would never have stopped writing about Visual Studio.

If I were the solo winner of the powerball lottery tomorrow, I would still come to work in the morning if it meant achieving this long term goal.

Things NOT to do as my Manager

I don’t really expect anyone to really remember these, but again, it’s that fighting chance to have a conversation up front.

A couple of examples are

  • Do not automatically say no to an idea that either I enjoyed doing or worked great in the past. Nothing kills my morale faster than that. Of course, we should have a conversation about the pros/cons, risks and trade-offs, but trust me to fail quickly.
  • Never put pressure on me to change any hard-to-schedule medical appointments. One time years ago when I was on crutches I had someone in management ask me why I hadn’t done some low priority work yet. I pointed to the crutches and mentioned the PT being exhausting. She said, “yeah but your hands work just fine.” I will never become that person. I’ve found it very empowering to say, “Look, I want to do my best work possible, which means making sure I can take care of myself.” By holding myself accountable to taking care of myself, I feel I’ll have more empathy for others, and hence I won’t become that person.