Successfully Navigate Your First 100 Days In A New Leadership Position

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Your organization has spent a considerable amount of time, money and effort selecting you for your new leadership position. You’re smart, experienced and have an outstanding track record. It’s a good start, but not enough to guarantee success.

Somewhere between 40% - 50% of executives who are new hires fail, or don't meet expectations within the first year on the job. A This is because joining a new company, or sometimes even a new division within the same company, means navigating a series of highly complex transitions. Yet most leaders get an orientation that barely scratches the surface of what’s essential to meet the high expectations that await their arrival. As one leader said, “I feel like I’m racing through a maze, along side people who all have maps and GPS’s to guide them. Worse, they’re communicating in a language that I don’t understand yet.”

This doesn’t have to be a case of “sink or swim”. There are specific things you can do to take charge of your acclimation, dramatically increasing your chances of success. Immediately upon accepting a new job, you have three big goals to achieve in a relatively short period of time. You must:
  • Gracefully Exit Your Current Position
  • Take Charge Of Your Entry Into The New Job
  • Establish Your Credibility By Executing A 100-Day Success Plan

Gracefully Exit Your Current Position:
These days, few people leave a job with a successor in place who is prepared to take over. Frequently, a successor hasn’t even been hired.
  1. Identify immediately what needs to be completed before you leave your current position. Ask those who will be most impacted, to prioritize the top 3 things they need from you before you depart.
  2. Negotiate an agreement with your manager, outlining what you can reasonably accomplish in your remaining time.
  3. How will things be handled when questions arise after you leave your current position? What, if any help can you offer, while starting a demanding new position? Be realistic. Your commitment is now to your new job. Recommend a transition plan and distribute it. This is especially critical if you are taking a new position within the same organization.

Take Charge Of Your Entry Into The New Job:
Utilize your talents, but add to your toolbox. Under the stress and excitement of a new job, it’s easy to rely on your strengths—and over use them. To avoid this trap:
  1. Gather ideas from people inside and outside your new organization about the critical skills, perspectives and abilities needed to succeed in your new position.
  2. Find the ones that are different from those that have served you well in previous jobs. Focus on developing these new skills helps you avoid the trap of doing what you do best, regardless of what the situation requires.
  3. Assessment tools can be a powerful aid in the process of gaining a new perspective and uncovering blind spots. Grab the opportunity to get a new perspective on your skills and experience in order to uncover any blind spots. Always a good idea, this is especially timely when you’re starting a new job. It’s easier to make some changes and try some new behaviors when you’re not working within a firmly established reputation.

Execute A 100-Day Success Plan:
As you start the new job, these three strategies will serve you well:
  • Establish Strong Support
  • Accelerate Your Learning Curve
  • Maintain Your Focus

These strategies have multiple parts. Let’s look at a few of them that will help you establish credibility and produce results early on.

Establish Strong Support
  1. Build a close working relationship with your new manager. Discuss what role your manager and other people in and outside of the organization will play to help you quickly get onboard.
  2. Get your team aligned with and supportive of your objectives and your management style. Develop a two-way communication path and ask them to help you with a crash course about the team and the organization. They have a rich storehouse of history, skills, ideas and connections to offer you---if they are motivated to do so.
  3. Establish a “safe haven” -- a person or people with whom you can talk candidly. Where will you go when you don’t have all the answers? You must feel secure asking questions and testing ideas with someone you can trust as you learn your new job. Many have successfully found this vital resource in a coach or a mentor.

Accelerate Your Learning Curve
  1. Identify a learning plan for your first 3 months on the job that covers these points:
    1. What information must you master in your first month on the job? What are the top 10 questions you need to have answered immediately? How will you get the information? Who will assist you?
    2. What’s the most efficient way for you to sort through a sea of product information, customer names, company financials, market data, acronyms and policies?
    3. How is this organization’s culture different from what you’re used to?
  2. Learn the “influence pathways” within your organization. Start building a network of people who can help you build the relationships and get the information you’ll need to get things done.
    1. At a minimum this includes the leaders both inside and outside of the organization who can make or break your success.
    2. Find out how you can help them succeed, and vice versa.

Maintain Your Focus
  1. Get clear about your immediate priorities. Establish clear expectations. Be sure you and your manager agree: What does success look like in the first 3 months?
  2. How will the various individuals and groups you rely on measure your success?
  3. Ask about the potential pitfalls that come with the job so you can develop pathways around them.

Moving into a new leadership position is complex, and each situation is unique. By building important alliances early, and keeping your attention on the right things, you will cut months off of your transition time, and establish the reputation of a successful leader.