23rd Sep 2015

New leadership role? 15 questions that will help you write your first 100 days plan

Photograph: Alejandro Escamilla

 

15 questions that will help you write your first 100 days plan

Whether you’re a first-time manager or a newly appointed Chief Technology Officer, every new leadership role comes with new challenges and a steep learning curve. Back to back meetings, managing stakeholders, getting to know your team and firefighting can be overwhelming and make it tough to deliver results. The best approach is to be on the front foot from the very beginning by creating a first 100 days plan and working it through to completion.

 

Begin with the end in mind

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey identifies the 2nd habit as ‘begin with the end in mind’. This is a good approach when writing your first 100 days plan. After all, in the words of the late great Yogi Berra, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up in the wrong place”.

 

Adopt a 'whole-systems' approach

So beginning with the end in mind, 1) what do you want to have achieved by the end of two years in your role? 2) Or if it’s an interim role or contract of definite duration, what do you want to have achieved in that period of time? 3) Or put another way, what do you need to do over that period of time to have absolutely nailed the job?

Adopt a ‘whole systems’ approach. In other words, consider your role in terms of:

 A) you the person;
 B) the role you have to fulfill;
 C) the organisation and;
 D) the market you are operating in.

Once you’ve identified your goals, think about whether or not you can be more ambitious with your timeline. 4) What would you have to do to achieve your goals within 18 months? Be ambitious, and pragmatic.

 

Structuring your first 100 days plan

With your sense of direction fine-tuned and your end point identified, you can start thinking about structuring your first 100 days plan.

Using the ‘whole systems approach’, identify your ‘desired outcomes’ for the end of your first 100 days. 5) Specifically, what do you need to have achieved by the end of your first 100 days in order to achieve your longer term goals?

In terms of you ‘the person’,  6) what is the transition you need to make in order to be fully functioning in the role within the first 100 days? 7) In what ways can you make a unique contribution? 8) In what ways do you need to up-skill?

In terms of your role, 9) what targets do you need to hit and what results do you need to deliver? Remember, being ambitious will pay dividends in the long run.

Thinking in terms of the organisation, 10) who your stakeholders? 11) How can you build those relationships? 12) What is the culture of this company and what do you need to do to navigate that culture?

Finally, think about the market – 13) how can you can add value to the market? 14) Is there a gap that needs to be filled? 15) What is your contribution going to be?

Once you’ve answered these questions in the context of your first 100 days, break the 100 days into 30/60/90 day milestones and work out what actions you need to take by each milestone in order to successfully achieve your goals.

 

A few pointers to help keep you on track

Write it down. Or put it on whatever device suits you. This will help with your thought process and will help you keep track of your progress.

Review and update. Things can, and will change during your first 100 days. Be agile and adapt. Regularly review and update your plan. Do this on a weekly basis to keep on top of things.

Stay focused. If you find yourself working on an activity that isn’t in your plan, ask yourself why you are working on it and if it contributes to the ‘bigger picture’ and goals that you want to achieve. If it contributes to your overall goals, that’s great - include it in your plan. If it doesn’t contribute to your overall goals, stop doing it.

Share your plan. It’s important to share your plan with your line manager(s) and other stakeholders. You can share what you’ve committed to paper or share your ideas verbally. The plan will act as a vehicle for discussion, and will help you to get your stakeholders to invest in your success. Their input and support in the process will be invaluable.

Don’t procrastinate. You might feel like you don’t have all the relevant information to create your plan before you start in role or in your first week. I urge you, don’t procrastinate. Do it while you are fresh and before you find yourself in the thick of things.

 

Colm Flood

 

For more information about the ‘whole systems’ approach or writing a first 100 days plan, feel free to get in touch (colm.flood@first100assist.com).

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