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 60 to 89. This post covers you through day 500.
Family. Your first 90 and 180 days were intense! Not just for you, but your family. Take time off. You need rest. Your family needs you. I love my service and have tattoos and scars to prove it. May I never value my service over family. Work will always be there; family won’t. Aim to use all your awarded time off each year. Do not die with unused time off.
Health. You must think long-term. It is fine to skip workouts and eat poorly on occasion. Don’t make a habit of it. One reason the military drills the importance of health? They know a fit soldier is a healthy soldier is an alive soldier. If you compromise health too long, it will catch up. Practice mindfulness. Eat right and exercise.
Strategy. You have your 180 days covered. Now seek the long-term “converged” strategy covered in the last post. Extend strategic boundaries, but don’t break them.
Team. Team building never ends. Take advantage of Human Resources and continue developing people. I recommend everything from formal assessments to experiential activities. No one technique is magic. Continued development and growth have a collective transformative impact.
Economical Extras. Never use budget as excuse not to train. Better to have 99 well trained employees then 100 untrained. Training should be the last item trimmed from budgets. Even on limited budgets, there remain low-cost options:
- Toastmasters: Start a chapter. Very low cost and excellent training.
- Book Studies: Start organizing brown bag lunchtime book studies. Pick books of interest and invite others. Not only are these great opportunities for learning, but networking as well.
- Leadership: Develop leadership academies teaching topics specific to gaps you have.
- Rounding: Mandatory rounding for all. Oh the transformation that occurs walking in the shoes of a nurse! Seeing patients reliant on your technology. Sobering.
- Seminars: Have experts in your teams offer seminars to teach others. Organizations should spend more time presenting internally then externally.
- Special Guests: Whenever someone I admire is in town, I recruit them for our own private event. We routinely host the top CIOs in the country.
Visibility. Remain visible to your division and organization. There is no license to hide. Walk through the crowd slowly. Rotate your leadership meetings amongst hospitals, institutes, and business units. Buy breakfast monthly for different teams and hang with those who do the work.
Managing Up. Every meeting, ask your managers what you can do to better for them and the organization. Listen and learn. Take action. Humble yourself and look for the nuggets of gold sometimes disguised in sarcasm or a joke. Share performance results based upon pre-agreed upon criteria. Seek clarity. Ask for help. Ensure your technology leadership is making your manager and organization successful.
Operations. Hire really good people. Then let them do their thing. Don’t interfere. Trust. Establish high standards and step back. If you spend time in operations, you lose focus as CIO. If you are in operations, you have a bigger issue. Part of it is you.
Changing Hearts. This is mushy. A leader’s role is to connect minds to hearts, especially in healthcare. I don’t want technologists who serve in healthcare. I want service-oriented, empathetic people who know technology. They are the transformers. The game-changers. I led a team of the best technologists but we had no heart. We were average. I led a team of service-oriented people who learned technology, and we were above average. Focus on hearts, not resumes. Everything else will follow.
Reality. Not everyone will like you. No matter what. Avoid wasting energy with these individuals. I want to fix everything. I want everyone to like me. Impossible. Pour yourself into those who want to partner and are interested in your success.
Anniversary Tours. You are purposeful in developing relationships. Taking copious notes. One year later, circle back with everyone you met while interviewing and in your “hit the ground listening” phase. This is how it sounds: “Hard to believe, but we met a year ago on March XX, 20XX. You shared your top two concerns and your one indicator that IT transformed. Here is how we addressed your two concerns… How do you feel about these today? You said if ‘this’ happened, it would be a sign that IT improved. What do you think today?” This is accountability, transparency and humility. Then ask for a new set of criteria.
Transparency. Put everything online for your customers to see. There is nothing to hide. Have a banner page “headline” indicating elapsed time since your last major incident. Make everything about IT visible. The good, the bad and the ugly. Your plans. Your objectives. Your results. Your performance. Everything.
Relationships. Keep a report card concerning peer relationships. Who would grade you ‘A’ versus ‘D?’ Focus on maintaining your ‘A’s’ and ‘B’s.’ The effort working on ‘D’s’ won’t yield equal results. If you sense a change in grades take action. Like gardening, relationships take significant nurturing.
Be Yourself. There is temptation to fit in. The pressure to assimilate. There are certain cultural norms you should follow. Just not at the expense of who you are. You were hired for a purpose. To bring change. If you become a carbon copy of others, your impact is degraded. Find the balance. Be true to yourself. Both you and your organization benefit.
Industry Peers. Reach out. I have a go-to list. I call on my peeps all the time. All the time. They call on me. No apologies. Flying solo leads to plane crashes.
Written by Ed Marx, CIO at the Cleveland Clinic, this is last 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.