500 Days. 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. The ideas contain lessons learned the hard way with the hope of helping others avoid similar mistakes. Last post, we recommended actions during days 30-59. This post covers your next 30 days (60-89).
A summary of the posts in this series so far:
30 Days Prior. After you’ve celebrated your new role with friends and family, you have to get to work. This is a transitional time as you must first honor your commitments and obligations to your current employer while also carving out time to focus on your pending role. Your primary commitment and loyalty remains with your current employer. If you can find some time to invest in your pending gig, do it. Do not forsake family.
Day 1-29. Your first 30 days on the job are the most critical. The first day can be nerve racking. You typically head straight for orientation or to your new office and meet your manager. Whatever the circumstance, dress the part and take a deep breath! Remember your first day of school?
Day 30-59. By this time, you 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 are working hard but eating healthy and getting rest.
Day 60-89. The actions you take from this point forward establish your division DNA. It is challenging to change trajectory after your first 90 days. Final adjustments must be made during this period. You are mastering many of the basics. You are learning culture, establishing relationships, converting quick wins and building your team. There are many nuances depending on your organization and division, but the following are solid areas to consider.
90-Day Plan. Create and publish a second 90-day plan covering days 90-180. Your first half-year. This buys more time to develop your strategy and complete your onboarding. You must visibly move initiatives forward while learning your new job. If no published plan, colleagues will assume the worse. Unaligned forces will attempt to fill the void. Showcase continuous action. The temporary plan will keep your division focused while waiting for the long-term plan. See next!
Someone once said, “If there is no plan, people will wander.” And wander they will.
Strategy. There are three broad categories of IT strategy: Non-existent, aligned, and converged. Your objective is to reach convergence, explained below. If no strategy, you must create it. If there is an aligned strategy, improve it and set the stage for convergence.
- Non-Existent. Most organizations have zero IT strategy. This is likely why you were recruited. Before you collaborate to create strategy, ensure foundations are firm or you’ll build on shifting sand. Foundations include governance and project management office. Double down on peer relationships to ensure developed strategy sticks. There are many strategy resources available online. Better yet, ask respected CIO peers.
- Some organizations have strategy aligned with the business. The fundamentals are kicking. Care is given to ensure strategy supports the overall organizational strategy. Super! Make sure you have the right leaders in governance. Aim to have your CEO co-chair with you. Include a patient for their perspective. Publish your plan and report related metrics. Next, focus on getting out of the strategy business and set your eyes on convergence.
- When IT strategy is embedded in the fabric of the overall organizational strategy, it’s nirvana. IT is woven throughout, much as a thread within a tapestry. There are no defined boundaries; IT is just part of the business. There is little reason to call out IT. IT is best when it is one with the organization. It is challenging to achieve, but worth the effort. Once harmonized, everyone benefits, especially our patients.
Accountability. Be brutally honest about IT and identify gaps. Transparency is key. Share openly when things go wrong. Your customers know there are gaps. They know before you do when things break. Be proactive, own up and take action. Highlight IT-related objectives and key results. Show failures and related root cause analysis. Old-school, but nothing wrong with adding “X Days since… our last accident” banners on your customer portal, stressing high reliability and service excellence. You are what you measure.
Daily Huddles. Hold daily huddles. These begin and work their way through operational levels until it is just you and your direct reports. Review your operations from bottom to top in 15 minutes. Huddles are the best way to learn the truth and engage your division. See previous post on the power of huddles.
Partnerships. You won’t succeed on your own. Be extremely thoughtful in pursuing relationships. Not everyone will be warm and welcoming. Ball is in your court. It’s not that your peers are uncaring; more likely just plain busy. It is your responsibility to develop high quality partnerships with your peers.
Vendor Management. Develop a vendor management office and segment vendors to better-manage time. Stratify vendors into strategic, tactical, neutral and emerging. Don’t fixate on my descriptors as much as the concepts. Time is precious and you will run out of resources if you meet with everyone. Stick with 3-4 strategic partners and 2-3 emerging vendors. Let your team handle the balance.
Invest time with key suppliers as they will accelerate your strategy and success.
Professional Organizations. These are your lifeline. Do not ignore. Organizations like CHIME and HIMSS offer support through their programs and services. I would not be successful without them. KLAS and Gartner are also valuable. By all means, give back to the broader community, especially local professional chapters.
Community CIOs. Another lifeline are your local peers, inside and outside of healthcare. In NYC and Dallas, I made it a point to bring peers together. In Cleveland, all healthcare CIOs meet for dinner. I participate in a cross-industry CIO community group. I meet 1:1 with CIOs from KeyBank, Progressive, Indians and Eaton. Peers provide valuable insights and direct you to community resources. I am less effective on my own.
I need others. Asking for help is confidence and strength.
Leadership. You must have the right people on your team. We know this intellectually but a challenge to pull off. Do you keep everyone? Are there competency issues? Character flaws? Do individuals embrace your vision? Are any actively disengaged? Your team may not lead to your success or demise, but will be the accelerator of either.
Family. Your family extended the gift of time your first two months. Even the most supportive home will grow weary if you are vested too deeply too long in your new job. Talk about it and start dialing back. Remember it is a marathon not a sprint.
What good will it do you if you exceed work expectations but fail at home? None.
Opportunity. What an amazing opportunity you have as the new leader! You have been chosen for a reason. Seek to exceed expectations. To optimize success, complete the 90-day plan. Review other resources to generate ideas for success. Reach out to mentors and others who went before you. Write it out and execute. Don’t let the difference between success and failure be laziness.
Next post we will cover your first 500 Days. The primary focus will be on keeping things moving forward and avoiding traps.