This article is the first in a series written for leaders and executives who have been appointed to a new role, perhaps within a new organisation and possibly in a new field of work. It is designed to help with making a successful transition and the focus is on the first 100 days in the new role.
Five Main Goals
In planning your transition to the new role and your first three months (100 days) in the new job you will probably be wanting to achieve five main goals.
Goal 1. To gain a deeper knowledge of the new job – most especially to obtain a realistic appreciation of any present ‘gap’ between the stated strategies of the new team(s) you will be responsible for and the current operational realities or de facto strategies. This will involve you in getting to grips with both initial perceptions and the underlying realities. And these, as you know, are usually more complex and subtle than they appear initially!
At the end of your first one hundred days in the new role, you will want to be able to answer the following types of questions:
- What are the long and the short term goals, plans and budgets associated with your new job?
- What are the current performance levels relative to plans?
- Why are the timeframes for achievement set in the way they are?
- What are relationships with clients and partners like? Are relationships improving or going downhill? How do we know?
- How are strategies and individual manager’s goals aligned?
Goal 2. To accept and deal with the real capabilities of the organisation and the people. People’s capabilities do, indeed, vary – even when they are supposed to be doing the same job and have had the same guidance and training! If your role is to bring about change then you will certainly find that some of your managers may relish shaping, communicating, creating and managing change – but this, of course, is not universally true. You may develop an agenda for change and perceive that the platform for change is on fire: others may yet have felt the heat.
At the end of your first one hundred days, you will want to be able to answer at least the following questions with some confidence:
- What are the key success factors for all operations in my new portfolio?
How much time will I need to understand critical processes, situations and relationships before I make change plans?
- What are the stated and un-stated processes, accountabilities and systems here?
- What ‘landmines’ were built into prior decisions – and why?
- What is the true depth of difficulty in (any underperforming) group? What are the reasons for underperformance?
- What individuals hold the real power?
- What are the real lines of authority?
- What is the actual role of high profile leadership teams?
- What is the actual experience and professionalism of my people and people over whom I now have influence?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership and/or management team? Are both known and acknowledged by the members?
- Do formal job responsibilities exist? Why? Why not?
- What are the management philosophies here?
- Is there real or imagined alignment between these philosophies and the way that leaders/managers are rewarded?
- How much emphasis is placed on managerial consensus? Why? Why not?
- What resources are there outside the formal networks that are contributing to the goals? How can they be brought into the network?
- How will I strengthen and secure the leadership of my team to achieve agreed goals, given my expanded/changed portfolio?
Goal 3. To discover and prioritise multiple expectations. Deep investigation of many organisations tends to convey an impression that they are not adept at prioritising and often appear to wear out their key resources (not just people) because the difficult choices have not been made. Newcomers appointed to lead an expanded or changed portfolio often perceives this vividly. It is a valuable “newcomer’s insight” but it can negatively impact your morale if you are not prepared for this experience. This is an area where a competent coach, mentor or buddy can make a real difference to your experience.
Goal 4. To navigate political waters and establish alliances with the right people. This is often the most difficult challenge. Pretences about power are not particularly helpful. An experienced mentor or buddy could help you to make sense of the subtle power plays that really are at work, often just under the surface.
Goal 5. To set an agenda for action that has buy in and generates a sense of urgency.In this area you need to first make use of your excellent people skills. Your transition plan should enable you to make substantial connections with key people and from there to begin building out your network. Sources within this network will provide the data, information and commentary that you need to begin constructing your agenda for action.
In the next article in this series we will be looking at the various roles the key players involved with any leadership or executive transition should, and do, play.