Getting your first 100 days right

You’re the one who got the new job. Congratulations! Now you have 100 days to make a great impression. So what do you need to do and how do you need to do it?

The first 100 days are an early “pulse check” for your management performance and perhaps even an indicator for your future career. During this short probation period, you need to make yourself accepted by earning the respect and trust of your team and other important co-workers. And of course it goes without saying: when you take on this new role, you will come across a lot of new challenges (depending on what you’ve inherited from your predecessor) and you’ll need to cope with them quickly. You can be sure that the first 100 days will also be emotionally charged with your mood swinging between high confidence and deep self-doubt.

People, strategy and results

Unposed group of creative business people in an open concept office brainstorming their next project.

In short: you are entering a tough period where you have to prove in 100 days that you are not only surviving but doing a great job. Therefore, it helps if you are aware that “people”, “strategy” and “results” are the three core areas for effective management and the first benchmarks people will use to judge your performance. When it comes to “people,” you have to make sure that your team is performing and that you can rely on further effective relationships. For “strategy,” it’s your role to set a clear direction and, last but not least, you are expected to deliver meaningful “results.” Quite a range of responsibilities for a newbie to cope with in only 100 days!

Building trust with your team members

startup business team on meeting in modern bright office interior brainstorming, working on laptop and tablet computer

Above all, you are now responsible for the work of your team. So for the first 100 days (and also afterward) it should be your top priority to earn trust, build loyalty and stimulate team and individual performance. Building clear communication rules at the beginning and strengthening this framework will improve your status and provide your team members with the confidence to move forward in their work. It’s also important to establish a reciprocal means of communication. Giving feedback, setting goals, and exchanging ideas will get things moving forward and strengthen your team. Focus on inspiring cooperation between team members in order to achieve better results.

Be a strong communicator

Establishing effective relationships is one of your critical success factors in this early period. So don’t focus solely on communicating with your team; communicate with people in all levels of the organization. Get to know everyone directly and indirectly involved within your business unit. Introduce yourself to other managers and listen to their advice. This extra step will make it easier for you to convey your team’s needs and will also allow your team to communicate more effectively inside your organization.

Strategy & results: Dividing your 100 days into 3 phases

What might help you to move forward in a structured way, and avoid getting tangled up in all the different aspects of your new position, is to consciously divide those 100 days into three phases. This will help you to work on “people,” “strategy” and “results” – your trio for success.

Here are the 3 phases and their core elements:

1. Orientation phase

During this first phase, you should focus on listening, understanding, and learning by asking questions and gathering facts. Get to know your team members, hold one-to-one meetings to find out what drives and motivates them. Find a happy medium between being too bossy (wanting to control everything) and too lax (trying to be everyone’s friend) by taking a diplomatic approach. Work on building relationships with superiors, clients, and peers as well.

2. Evaluation phase

During the evaluation phase, you sort the information obtained, lead discussions, assess strengths and weaknesses, and define the tasks and areas of activity you want to focus on. Combine the assets and drawbacks of your team members and match tasks accordingly. Build a very clear profile of your role, the organization, and the market. This is almost like a leadership SWOT analysis (a list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
Afterward, you can start to recommend and initiate changes that will enhance individual and group performance.

While you may see the need for change, do not attempt to turn the whole department inside out at once. Get your team members on board, explain what you have in mind, and eventually develop your ideas further together.

3. Implementation phase

In the implementation phase, you will undertake concrete measures, monitor their consistent implementation, and ask for feedback.

If you want to go a step further you can even try to draft a 100-day-plan. This is a good way to cope with the pressures and challenges you are facing. You need to start with the end in mind by breaking your desired outcomes into 30/60/90 day milestones. But you have to decide for yourself if this is doable, right from the start.

The first 100 days of management are never easy. However, getting off to a strong start will enhance your chances of success and ensure you are welcomed as a new high performer from an early stage.

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