I help develop and review a lot of annual and quarterly plans, and one thing I see in most of them is an initiative or priority around hiring key people. Most of the clients we work with use TopGrading or a similar approach to successfully screen, interview, and hire the best people for each position. These efforts are very important and necessary to build the right team. The thing we do not talk about as much is how to make people successful when they accept the position. At Rhythm Systems, we have a very detailed 90-day plan to onboard new consultants so that they are prepared to give our customers the best possible experience and service. Not every company does. Some of your new hires may come with a plan, but I bet most do not.
As I scanned my bookcase looking for a title on sales this week, I came across the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. Mr. Watkins is an associate professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. I bought this book fifteen or so years ago when I was interviewing for a position as a CEO for another consulting firm. I will never forget sharing the book with the interview team; it blew them away that I had found a book to help me with the transition. I have used it as I have moved through my career and find the approach very helpful. Let me paraphrase and augment the 10 step approach the book takes.
10 Steps to Success in a New Role
1. Promote yourself – Separate your mind from the job you came from and begin to prepare for the new one you just accepted. As Marshall Goldsmith tells us, “What got you here, won’t get you there.” Picture what success looks like in the new role and see yourself achieving it.
2. Accelerate your learning – Create a plan of what you need to learn first and how you will acquire the knowledge. We suggest finding the “Who” that can accelerate your learning when testing assumptions on winning moves. The same applies to your new position as it relates to how the organization operates, the products, customers, markets, etc... Identify who can fast track your learning and ask for their help.
3. Match strategy to the situation – Determine what is needed for the position or role to be successful. Some companies will have a job scorecard which will be helpful, but you still need to understand if you are helping with incremental improvements, a turnaround, or some other growth strategy.
4. Secure early wins – Look for low-hanging fruit, as the saying goes, to find opportunities to succeed and accomplish something so that you can begin to build credibility with the team. Help others win around you to show that you are a team player and have the best interest of others at heart as well.
5. Negotiate success – Share your onboarding plan with your new boss to confirm you are going in the right direction and develop Red-Yellow-Green success criteria so that you both know what success looks like to eliminate any surprises or miscommunication. Be prepared and have the courage to have any crucial conversations early on so that you can continue your successful path forward.
6. Achieve alignment – The more important the role, the more important it is to have the right organizational structure of your team and to have the right strategy to execute. Tools such as Rhythm software can help you achieve this alignment while clarifying the most important priorities to execute.
7. Build your team – If you are inheriting a team, it is important to evaluate them quickly and objectively to make sure you have the right players in the right seats. If changes need to be made, develop a plan and act as soon as appropriate. This is one of the most important aspects of succeeding in your new role. Make sure people can work to their strengths. Tools like StrengthsFinder from Gallup can assist with the evaluations.
8. Create coalitions – You need others outside your direct field of influence. Begin building relationships with key stakeholders to understand how your teams’ efforts align with theirs and what you can do to make them successful.
9. Keep your balance – It is important to balance your personal and professional life during the transition; stay healthy, fit and rested so that you can bring your best to the opportunity. If you have outside mentors or coaches, continue using them to maintain perspective.
10. Expedite everyone – Help everyone on your team accelerate their own transitions. Spend enough time building essential relationships and coaching those on your team so they know you are serious about their success as well as your own.
I would recommend getting a copy of the book to share with your key new hires to ensure they develop a plan to succeed. It is also applicable for key team members changing roles in your organization, too.
Good luck helping your new hires succeed, Alan
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