20th Dec 2011

Face the music, and dance!

If managed right, the intense short-term time-period right after promotion – the first 100 days – becomes an excellent framework that both provides opportunities and focuses efforts to achieve performance acceleration. 

When two cockerels confront each other and won’t dare to fight, they busily start pecking imaginary grains off to the side. That’s displaced activity. Much of what we do on any level is like that – all the more so in a stressful situation.

When you start a new job you can easily be overwhelmed for months with immediate fire-fighting and task-driven priorities – which is a bit like rolling up your sleeves and looking busy just for the sake of it.

Constant time-pressure and an intense learning curve are facts of daily working life for a newly promoted executive. But it takes time to get up to speed on the content of your new role.

If the promotion was a big step up then you will be in the position of having to learn a great deal from your own mistakes in a short space of time while a large number of people watch you expectantly. And business and the markets don’t slow down to let you catch up.

But if you face up to this unavoidable reality from the start, and create an intelligent plan that anticipates likely difficulties, you can be as prepared for the unexpected as its possible to be, and when difficulties do arise you’ll be more energetic and resourceful than you would otherwise be.

Being promoted – particularly as an external hire – can also leave you relatively isolated, without friends or supporters in an unfamiliar environment. The culture may be dense and slow-moving – people may be resistant to the changes you bring. But on the other hand, the first 100 days you spend in an organisation is the ideal moment to forge links with a wide variety of people.

There is no point in having the right vision and strategy in isolation – bring people with you. Invest early in building new networks and forging new stakeholder relationships. Get to know your bosses, subordinates and peers, both in your own and in other departments.

The first 100 days after promotion to a new leadership role are a window of opportunity when new appointees have a good chance of making positive, perhaps even radical, changes. The First100 approach is aimed at helping executives to make the most of that opportunity.

Hilda Goold



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