This post is part of a five-part series on key considerations and action items during your first 500 days in a new job.
First Days. The typical executive switches jobs 5-7 times during their career. How do you ensure a smooth and successful transition? This series compliments what others have written with fresh perspective and expanded time horizons. Last post, we recommended actions during your first 30 days. This post covers your next 30 days (30-59).
WayFinding. By this time, you should no longer need a GPS to find your way around campus. You are becoming familiar with the organizational culture and building foundations of trust with key leaders and team. You can now move to the next phase.
Meet & Greet. You’ve already met with the primary leaders and influencers; now it’s time to focus on their direct reports. Leaders’ perceptions of you are frequently informed by their directs. At the end of each week, look for key themes and opportunities and share with your team. Determine which challenges to pursue. Always close the loop with a hand-written note and share what action you are taking. Remember, you have to build trust and confidence – in you. Extra: Publish key discoveries and the status of the action items to solve uncovered issues.
Continue your 90 day campaign to “hit the ground listening.”
Vendors. The vendor community knows you have landed and knows how to reach you. Preserve your time. Unless something is on fire, resist the temptation to spend time with vendors until later. I believe in vendors as partners, and I am a strong advocate of collaborative relationships. However, your time must be protected. Vendor engagement is not a day 31-59 task. I will discuss leveraging vendors as partners in the next First Days blog. Extra: Vendors who are interested in your success will provide invaluable organizational insights.
Assimilation Acceleration. Progressive organizations have formal assimilation programs. Dive in head first. Take advantage of programs offered. Assimilation is a process to help you identify and cure blind spots as you immerse yourself in the new culture. It’s critical to receive feedback from peers and direct reports. Some feedback may hurt. Get over it. Listen and learn. We all have blind spots. Extra: If there is no assimilation program, work with your HR and develop one.
Coaching. Many organizations offer formal coaching programs. Again, take full advantage of resources aimed at helping you transition in your role. If you don’t think you can benefit from such programs, you are fooling yourself. Leaders covet opportunities to enhance their abilities. If your organization does not offer coaching, ask for it. Asking for help is not weakness, it is strength. Arrogance stifles potential. Extra: Interview potential coaches and go with the one who appears unafraid to get in your face.
Present Often. Now is a good time to make yourself available to your organization so they can know you deeper and ask questions. Send invitations to all your management and offer to speak at their team meeting. Make it a goal to attend team meetings in your division. “Town Hall” events are important, but the smaller the audience, the bigger opportunity for engagement. Extra: Arrange a tour of different work areas so you can increase the odds of one-to-one interaction.
Live Healthy. More than ever, take care of yourself. Leading is hard, but leading in a new job is harder. If you moved geographically, the level of difficulty is increased exponentially. Eat clean, eat healthy. Drink in moderation, if at all. Get rest. You will be tempted to get up early and stay up late working, but the ROI is negative over time. Progressive companies often correlate benefit costs with live healthy attributes, which provide additional incentive. Extra: Share with friends and family your live healthy goals so they can encourage you and hold you accountable.
The Why. Invariably, you were hired to lead change. As you formulate your go-forward strategy with your team, ensure everyone knows the way. People will more readily follow a leader with a change agenda when they understand the why. Why do we need to change? Why is it important? Why should we change? Make sure the why is easily articulated and inspiring. Extra: Ensure your manager is agreeable to and endorses the why as well!
The Team – Gaps. If you engage deeply, you should be in the ‘forming and storming’ stages. You may already see gaps in the team. This is not a bad thing. To think there will be this perfect match of new leader coming into an existing team is a fairy tale. If there are gaps, identify them and fill them. Extra: Engage the team in any new hire decisions, including full veto power over candidates.
The Team – Fit. If someone is not a good fit, address it quickly. Both you and the individual know it, even if unspoken. The team knows it too. Your boss knows. The worst thing you can do is let it continue. Bad fits get worse with time. Bad for the individual, the team and the organization. A bad fit does not mean a bad person or poor performer. It means there is a better fit for that person elsewhere. Secure your management support and move on. Extra: Be an advocate for that individual and assist him or her in their transition off the team.
Team development investment dividends pay out continuously.
The Team – Develop. Everything rises and falls on leadership (Maxwell). Invest everything possible developing your team. The ROI on developing engaged leaders improving themselves is immeasurable. Take advantage of HR programs and supplement generously with IT specific programs. Extra: Create complimentary opportunities that you can curate internally to increase your people development reach.
The Next 30 Days. While you are beginning to settle in and better understand your role, days 60-89 you lay out the strategy and begin execution. I’ll review some key considerations and takeaways in the next post.
Feedback. What other considerations and action items should leaders consider in their second month of a new role?
Written by Ed Marx, CIO at the Cleveland Clinic, this is the second in 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.