The typical executive switches jobs 5-7 times during their career. How do you ensure a smooth and successful transition? This five-part series is intended to compliment what others have written over the years with fresh perspective and expanded time horizons. In this post, I will start with recommended actions during an oft-ignored time period: the 30 days prior to your start date.
30 Days Prior. After you celebrate your new role with friends and family, you must get to work. This is a challenging transition time as you must first honor your commitment to your current employer while carving out time for your pending role. Your primary obligation and loyalty remains with your current employer. Allocating time investing in your pending role will pay dividends.
Family Time. I recommend incorporating a one-week break between the two roles to reconnect and refresh. This is an important time to take a break and immerse yourself in family. Starting a new role is an intense process requiring extensive start-up time. You will regret the time you didn’t take off.
Corporate Communication. Work closely with your new organization’s corporate communications team to ensure your internal announcement is pristine. The announcement establishes others’ first impressions of you, so it’s critical to make sure it is on point. Your picture is in your Sunday best. Your quote is specific and visionary. Timing is sensitive. Show respect to your current employer by consulting with them on the timing of any announcements.
Information Gathering. Enter your new role fully-informed and armed with a plan. Leverage your network to learn everything you can about your new employer and role. While gathering information, you have the opportunity to strengthen relationships with your new team. Engage them as reasonable. Your vendor network will also provide a complimentary external perspective. The more you know about your pending role, the faster you will assimilate.
Team Communication. Leadership transitions cause anxiety for direct reports and division. Conducting short weekly meetings leading to your arrival will help address both. Spend more time sharing on a personal level versus business. Being transparent will accelerate the team development process. Depending on the culture, consider proactive communication to the broader team. Send a “hello” email loaded with personal information that they would not otherwise be privy to. If logistics work, an introductory “town hall” type of speech with Q&A can be helpful. The more you communicate, the more accurate the rumors.
Communications should emphasize who you are, not what you did. People want to know if you are authentic and someone they can relate to.
Assessment. Between all the data points collected from interviews and research, you have enough intelligence to make an accurate assessment of the organization’s strengths and opportunities. Knowing what you are walking into helps to prepare. For instance, if your new organization embraces agile, get up-to-speed before you show up. Once you have a draft assessment, validate with your new team and manager and refine. You need an honest assessment before you can develop an effective plan and recruit for gaps.
Recruitment. As part of your assessment you will learn of key open positions. You may discover skill gaps that require you to bring in external talent. Great leaders know success depends on the team around them. You must ensure you have the right leaders in place. Jump start recruiting leaders into open positions or where you require depth. Recruitment processes take anywhere from 90-180 days, which is why I encourage immediate assessment and action.
Recruitment is a leadership function, not human resources.
Planning. To ensure success you must walk into your new role with an initial plan. You must hit the ground running and listening. Engage your team and have them help develop and refine the plan. This process will provide an additional catalyst for team building. Your team will feel included in the new direction and become engaged. Share your plan with your manager to make sure it is aligned with their expectations. Once validated in your first 30 days, share with your division and ask for input. This promotes a culture of transparency and accountability. It demonstrates humility.
The Next 30 Days. While the initial plan typically covers the first 90 days, your first 30 days on the job are the most critical. I’ll review some key considerations and takeaways in the next post.
Feedback. What other considerations and action items should leaders consider 30 days prior to the start of a new role?
Written by Ed Marx, CIO at the Cleveland Clinic, this is the first of a five-part series focused on how ensure a smooth transition when starting a new leadership role. Marx speaks from experience, having worked with a number of organizations, including Texas Health Resources, University Hospitals, and The Advisory Board Company.