Whatever stage you are, read our top tips to make your first 100 days a firm foundation for another significant and exciting stage of your career journey.
- Work out what you are there to do
Might sound like crazy advice but it’s not. When employers start writing job descriptions or talking to headhunters they start to believe that there is a person out there that can do everything that is written down, much of which will be aspirational or someone else’s job or just plain impossible. Your task in week 1 is to work out what they are actually realistically expecting so you can deliver. Quickly.
- Identify the key people to know
This won’t be the obvious, that is for sure. Hopefully your boss is seen as a key mover and shaker but you need to know. You may have been hired to replace your boss and everyone knows it but you. It’s reasonably common. Who are the people that influence corporate thinking? Ask people. Get in their diary. Who is constantly mentioned, who knows everyone and can help you with the stuff not written down but critical? Might be the long-serving PA of the MD or someone on reception or without a glamorous job title. Or even someone external or that has left.
- Get to know your team – properly
This is an area that people can really get very right or very wrong. If you are being paid to manage people make it your business to get close to them quickly. Find out what makes them tick, what motivates them, what frustrates them and what they can and can’t do. Dive in deep to understand how they are doing things. If they are good they will appreciate it and if they aren’t on top of things, you need to know. Fast! If your team is happy, it’s good PR for you in the same way that if they aren’t and morale dips, it will almost certainly be terminal for you.
- Brand is important. Very important.
Lots of talk at the moment about ‘brands’. You need to quickly get into the DNA of your new company and properly understand it. If there are still founders this is all the more critical as not being 100% on brand will be a barb in their side. But also think about your Personal Brand as it’s how people get to know you – the individual they have hired or are working for. What are you going to wear? (Sometimes people take the opportunity of a new job to have an image makeover. It’s a great time to do it. Men and women!) What hours are you going to work? How contactable are you going to be outside the office? How will you treat people? What practices or customs are you going to introduce? What are your values and how will people see them?
- Communication strategy
Seriously you need one. It’s a big area. What is your tone of voice on email? Are you going to bash out sloppy ones with typos or be more considered? How quickly are you going to reply? Or will someone else? Whatever your speed of response you will set expectations. Are you clear about what you will talk about face to face or on the phone and what you email? Who will you copy in? How will you store or file emails. It needs some serious consideration especially if your new role is more senior or more demanding. The volume will increase and having a PA may actually make it harder initially as you need to lead and establish a system from Day 1. Ask yourself whether you are going to become another slave to corporate emails or recognize they are other people’s priorities and keep them in their place?
- Be clear on the governance and your responsibilities
This is something that can derail people. Not knowing what they are signing or the ethos or corporate structure behind a document. When you are new you can make it your job to properly understand things and challenge if necessary. Don’t sign something to be helpful if you don’t understand why you are doing it. It could end badly for you.
- Consider enlisting some external support
Depending on how you were hired, you may have been in contact with external professionals (psychologists, coaches, external HR consultants, head-hunters) who got to understand you and the company you were going to work for. It may be something to consider so you have an external sounding board that can support you. Pretty much everyone at every level benefits from this especially if you engage someone before you join so they can help negotiate favourable terms for you. Well worth considering.
Good luck in your new role. Enjoy it and make those first 100 days really count!