Any time you take on a new leadership role, there’s a learning curve. Most experts agree that the first 100 days of a new leader’s job is vital to setting the stage for future successes. Now is not the time to jump in and make wholesale changes. That time comes in the second 100 days of your job. But it’s how well you handle those first 100 days that will determine if you are able to fully capitalize on days 101 – 400.
For now, here are the six key things you should be planning for and executing during those critical early days:
1. Gather intel: what needs to be addressed? Go on a fact-finding mission. At this point, don’t look to change anything, just ask, listen and observe. As you do this, consider the next five action steps; fold in what you’re learning with changes you plan to make further down the road.
2. Set the tone with your boss. You may think I have this backwards – doesn’t the boss set the tone with me? Well, yes and no. I believe it’s up to you to establish the relationship you want with your manager. Let him or her know your preferences – what type of communication works best for you and so on. If it’s done diplomatically and with the intent to facilitate communication, many bosses will be receptive.
3. Bring your direct reports on board – fast. Set up one-to-one meetings as soon as possible after you assume your new role. Find out how the previous manager implemented processes and communication strategies – did the systems work, or could they use some tweaking?
4. Lay out your communication strategies. Think of a wheel – there is a center point (the “hub”) and spokes that radiate out from the hub. Now, think of yourself as that communication “hub” – and the spokes as all the people with whom you and your team must communicate. What communication strategies will you put in place to be sure you are communicating properly with each spoke on the wheel?
5. Assess your department’s brand. This is something many new managers overlook. That’s too bad, because the reputation of your department can be a key asset or liability, depending on how others see it. Ask around—what’s the level of credibility your department has? Do colleagues in other departments know what your team does? Can key executives connect what you do to the company’s mission?
6. Grab the low-hanging fruit. Executive coaches George Bradt* and Pam Fox Rollin** advocate for an “invest in early wins” approach for newly hired executives. I think this is true for any leader, regardless of their scope of authority. Whenever you meet with someone, ask, “what’s one simple, inexpensive thing we could do to _____ (improve customer service, make your job easier, improve efficiency)?”
My suggestion is to review these six key actions once a week. Ask yourself, “What specific action have I taken on this item?” If you keep these six actions top-of-mind each week, the first 100 days of your new leadership role will set you up for a successful leadership experience in the months to come.
*George is the co –author of The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results
Image credit: alexmillos / 123RF Stock Photo
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