You’ve walked through fire… you researched the company, networked with just the right people, wowed them during the interview, negotiated the package that still makes you shake your head in wonder, met your colleagues and got the job! And you know that’s where the real work begins…Your first 100 days as an executive in your new position.
Whether you’ve been an executive for years or this is your first senior role you already know that it’s a defining moment. You have your hands full with figuring out the climate, nimbly side stepping and diffusing the minefields, striking the right alliances, establishing and fostering subtle nuances with your direct reports and carrying out your leadership with the gravitas and qualities that inspire and motivate.
What helps executives in their first 100 days? What hinders them?
I spoke to Dr Paul Field, an executive who reflected on his First 100 Days.
- What was your role? Could you describe what this entailed?
I was the Head of Agile Team Excellence, where I was responsible for improving the performance of the software development function in a 100,000 person organisation. I was working with a wide range of senior stakeholders in the organisation to understand their needs and get their buy-in for organisational change. I was also worked with project and programme teams to help them adopt new ways of working.
- When did you start this role?
- Could you describe how you felt in the first 100 days?
Excited and daunted. Excited about the challenge and the possibilities for helping people create more enjoyable and productive ways of working and daunted by the scale of the problem.
- What helped you to flourish during this period?
I had a small team of good people, some of whom were experts I hired in from outside the company. And I had a lot of enthusiasm and support from people “on the ground” who wanted to adopt the new Agile way of working.
- What were your greatest challenges?
Narrowing the scope of what I was doing so I wasn’t paralysed by the scale and handling the high degree of uncertainty that any organisational change entails.
- What do you know now that you wished you knew then?
I now have some deep coaching skills that let me uncover what people really want and build rapport with them. Those skills would have been invaluable for the relationship-building that I needed to do and for synthesising a common vision that the stakeholders could buy into.
- If you were to do the first 100 days again what would you do differently?
I would narrow the scope and identify quick wins faster. I’d deliver those quick wins faster and communicate them widely. I would ensure that the sponsors had accountability for their part in the change.
- You have worked with 1000s of individuals and teams in your role, what advice do you have for executives in their first 100 days?
Go directly to the people who are doing the work that’s important for your business. Watch what they do then talk to them and listen to what they say – both their complaints and how they imagine a great company could be. When you are several levels up the corporate hierarchy you lose touch with day-to-day reality, so seek it out and let the people who are doing the work inform and ground your strategy.
This is the second in a 3 part series on the First 100 Days of executives.
Sudhana Singh is an executive coach, trainer and educator based in London. Her niche is coaching executives in the first 100 days of their new roles.