One of the toughest jobs I was stoked to be selected for, was the running of Handbags and Accessories division at New York City’s Macy’s Herald Square in 2013.

Yes . . .  that one.  The same Macy’s that
hosts the Thanksgiving
Parade every year. Of course,
now you understand why
it was such a privileged
position to hold.

I knew when I accepted the position that it was Macy’s highest volume store and a multi-million-dollar unit and although I have many lessons I took away from that experience, I’ll save some of those for another blog.

Let me give you a little background first. Before Herald Square Macy’s I was managing a $30 million women’s clothing department in Miami, FL at the #3 Macys door. I was known for my strong leadership skills and compelling visual presentation setups. Then I was asked to relocate to New York City and enter Herald Square where after one year in the building I was ranked top 3 out of 35+ Merchandise Managers.

I was recognized as one of the strongest coaches in developing talent too and had promoted over 8 colleagues to middle management positions within my first year there in NYC. All of which brought me to my 2nd assignment at Macy’s Herald Square in 2013 running a $50+ million business in women’s accessories.  


I was to take over the position from a woman who had been running that massive department for 12 years! Under her management the department experienced many successes and by her own estimation was growing more and more difficult to handle. Being the trouble shooter that I am, I jumped right into the boiling pot and that, I will say, was when I made my biggest mistake.


Being the trouble shooter that I am, I jumped right into the boiling pot and that, I will say, was when I made my biggest mistake.  Within the first 2 weeks I pointed out several things that were inefficient or lacking in production and shared it with my leads.

Consequently, by week 3, I was public enemy number one.  I was confronted about my steam roller tactics, by my beloved team. I couldn’t believe it!  I literally thought that I blew this huge opportunity in less than a month. I had to re-think and re-do my strategy and leadership tactics and learned:  

“How do you start strong in a new role with a new team?” Here are some tips on how to do that and be successful:

  1. 1. Get personal. Share a little about yourself. 

Let them know where you are from, who you call family and talk about something you love (not pizza) something that is personal. It will make you more human!  Good introductions are key.

I did a trivia game one time and made the team try to guess things about me to break the ice a bit. It was fun and interactive vs me just talking about myself like it was an autobiography. 

2. Get Input. Have a meeting with your new team and ask them what they like and don’t like about their working environment.

Just listen to them!  That means DO NOT answer your phone, NO texting, NO tablet, NO anything. When someone is talking look them in the eyes while you listen. Have you ever tried to have a serious meeting with your boss and they were texting or gaming for the entire conversation? Needless to say, that does not make an endearing impression.

Respect your tenure colleagues.  They come with a wealth of knowledge from a business perspective and from a cultural prospective.  Try your best to utilize your tenure colleagues’ ideas and make sure to give them credit for it.

Some of the best ideas I’ve implemented came from associates and they deserved the credit and recognition for it. Setting aside time with them can give you real insight and as a bonus you might gain some of their trust

3. Get Real. Set clear expectations on what you expect from your team

This is the time to go over the business focus and explaining why things need to be done in a certain way. Setting expectations on treatment of customers, treating each other with respect, schedules etc.

It doesn’t hurt to make an appointment with your boss to see their observations on processes and things as well so from the beginning you are on the same page with expectations.

4. Get Patience. Ensure you don’t change anything for the first month. Observe and take notes of what’s working and what isn’t.  

There are times when things are done in a certain way, not for productivity sake but for humanity sake.  For example: I had a support colleague who had worked in New York store for 50 years and really could not move around at all.

He just was not productive and took forever to get the trash thrown out or to process shipment, however he lived to go to work…literally. I used to give him easier tasks and looked the other direction despite how slow it took him to get anything done. I had to have so much patience with this support colleague but in the end we grew close and he brought such optimism to the team. 

You might be in a situation where the previous manager is still on site. Take the time to visit with them and listen to their advice . . . yes, even if they were terrible at their job, I have found that everyone has something to contribute. Goodwill goes a long way and in business you should never burn your bridges. Lesson here NEVER BURN BRIDGES!

Tough to be a new boss…communication is key

5. Get Intel

Ask the team what they want from you as you are in this new role. 

When I entered this women’s accessories role, the #1 question I was asked to do in my new role was recognition. I was shocked. The team wanted upper level senior executives to understand everything they did and how at times their jobs are not easy. Immediately I would recognize the team on the floor in the mist of my store manager and always spoke highly of my team in front of my boss.

Hope these tips help as you transition into your new role as a boss! Remember transitioning into to a new role with a team can be hard but focusing on your people and your style of management is the #1 priority. Tell me about a time you started a new role and what were your top 2 struggles with transitioning into the job?

Hope these tips help as you transition into your new role as a boss! Remember transitioning into to a new role with a team can be hard but focusing on your people and your style of management is the #1 priority. Tell me about a time you started a new role and what were your top 2 struggles with transitioning into the job?

Posted by:Jessi Morgan

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