If you’re like most executives in our present-day culture, you know what a victory scoring a new job is and how important making the most of it will be. After all, you’ve pulled off one of the headiest successes an executive faces, especially in the midst of a lousy economy. At minimum, it’s a validation of your talent. Now that you’ve got the job, though, how do you make the most of your victory and get off to the best start possible?
Beginning a new job is the time for personal, strategic planning. Your planning should be for several phases:
- Pre- Day 1 of Employment
- The First 30 Days
- The Second 30 Days
- The Third 30 Days
Let me provide you with some tactics and some strategies.
You should have gotten signals whether you are in a start up situation, a turnaround situation, or a realignment. If you don’t have a sense, you need to do some due diligence.
- What do you know about the job you’ve taken? What do you need to know?
- What do you know about your boss? What do you need to know?
- What do you know about your colleagues? What do you need to know?
- What do you know about your staff? What do you need to know?
- What do you know about your stakeholders (do you even know the key stakeholders)? What do you need to know?
- What about the strategy of the Company? Does the Strategy fit with your own analysis of the environment and the competition?
Do NOT feel shy about reaching out to people prior to your first day. Most people are flattered. Handle it like this, “Hi, I’m Craig, and I’m going to be the new head of X starting soon. I know you are key to the success of my new position. What do you think I should know going into my first day?
Then use the discussion to start to fill in some of the blanks in the areas where your own knowledge of the situation is shaky.
First Thirty Days
The impulse of any executive is to jump into making a decision in the first 30 days. Restrain yourself. Use the first 30 days to continue to assess people, stakeholders, processes, etc. Try to uncover any performance problems within your staff. Here is set of questions that I have found to be helpful.
- What do you do in the organization?
- How do you do it (with which people, using which processes, etc.)? How do you know when you are successful?
- Who is the key person, your “go to” person, in my organization?
Do not get personally involved with any particular person during this phase. Be careful not to make promises or even to imply promises.
From your complete analysis, begin to develop a mission and a draft organization chart (which may have similarities to your current chart). Use the knowledge you have gained by talking to your boss about key concerns and talking to others about process challenges to help you. Also, examine the organization charts of other companies. Talk with your Advisory Board about your thoughts. Definitely involve your boss.
Begin to identify the “keepers” in your organization and how they fit into the organization. If someone does not know the answer to number 1 or 2 above, they are probably NOT keepers.
Identify a challenge that must be addressed quickly for your organization to be successful. George Bradt calls this your “burning imperative.”
Second Thirty Days
Develop a clear communication about your new mission, your new processes, your new organization chart and your new people. Focus on your burning imperative. This will be your “stump speech” — you will repeat it EVERY chance you get.
Use your stump speech to explain the rationale for any changes you need to make (especially changes in people). Move fast during this phase to layoff those who will not fit into your new organization.
Before you make a move, get approval from your boss and get help from Human Resources. This is where a good human resources professional can make a difference.
Final Thirty Days
Act on your “Burning Imperative” and make the changes you need to be successful. Pull your team together to have a team building session (use an outside facilitator) to make sure everyone is behind the mission. Invite your boss (or key stakeholders) to show their support for your mission and implementation of your burning imperative.
Use the Team Building session to develop a plan to created sustainable value-add differentiators for your group. Have your team identify the new core competencies that are going to be needed to go forward. Develop agreed upon Ground Rules such as, no one will come to you to talk trash about a colleague. No one will come to you with a problem, without a solution. Develop a “zero surprises” rule. There are others that your staff will want to add.
Document everything in an “Action Plan” and assign appropriate actions to your staff. Use your staff meetings (Start doing weekly staff meetings) to address the progress on these plans. Start having regular one-on-ones with your direct reports. (At these sessions you should push to get the truth – the early warning signs that there may be problems in an area.)
Have your 90-day review with your boss and go in ready to talk about what you have accomplished. Listen carefully for any advice s/he may provide you.
Spend time building your key alliances… you are on your way.