Many of the executives we work with receive promotions, land their dream job, or become CEO’s. Having the first 90-day transition, also known as onboarding, go well, can be essential to create connection and engagement with the team they will need in order to be successful.
The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael Watkins, is a strong and helpful reference guide for you, as a leader or executive, as you transition to your new position. Here’s the quick video (a little over 20 min) that has solid take-a-ways that you can immediately use.
- Promote yourself – not in a self-serving way. Michael explains that you need to mentally prepare for the new role and be sure to get a running start.
- Accelerate your learning – you’ll need to adopt structured learning methods and ask these questions to your direct reports one-on-one:
- What are the biggest challenges the organization is facing (or will face) in the near future?
- Why is the organization facing (or going to face) these challenges?
- What are the most promising unexploited opportunities for growth?
- What would need to happen for the organization to exploit the potential of these opportunities?
- If you were me, what would you focus on?
- Match strategy to situation – diagnosing your situations is key.
- Secure early wins – the right way by avoiding the most common traps that afflict new leaders, according to Watkins:
- Failing to focus.
- Not taking the business situation into account.
- Not adjusting to the corporate culture.
- Failing to get wins that matter to your boss.
- Letting your means undermine your ends.
- Negotiate success – engage with your new boss to shape the game so you have the best chance of reaching the desired outcome and hitting the goal markers along the way.
- Achieve alignment – make sure that key elements of your team are in alignment.
- Build Your Team – to create leverage to deliver value. You’ll want to avoid the following traps:
- Keeping the existing team too long.
- Not repairing the team where it needs it.
- Not working organizational alignment and team restructuring issues in parallel.
- Not holding onto the good people.
- Starting team-building before the core team is in place.
- Making Implementation-dependent decisions too early.
- Trying to do it all yourself.
- Create coalitions – by mapping the influence landscape and identifying the key players.
Based on these same types of principles, Becky Freemal did a story for WFXR’s Virginia at Work series on the first 100 days in a new position. Here’s the video of the story.
- Get a head start before the first day, so you can hit the ground running
- Think team
Focus on these 5 building blocks for increasing tactical capacity for a highly effective team:
- Get buy-in for one burning imperative
- Use key milestones to drive team per performance
- Invest in early wins
- Get the right people in the right roles
- Shape team culture with an ongoing communication plan
If you are thinking right now, Lynda, I wish I would have had this a year ago when I started this position. No worries, you can still use these principles and practices to know where you might have pivoted off course. It can be helpful to hire an executive coach (that would be me or a member of my team) to be a strong and objective thinking pair to give you perspective and help identify how to get things back on track.
The best time to use this list is well before you start the position. Following this roadmap can help you get off to the best start possible.