Stepping into a new role as an executive is both exciting and challenging. How you handle this early transition can have a big impact on your long-term success. You need to hit the ground running not only with your new team but also with a larger set of stakeholders. Research shows that adopting a 90-day plan with specific 30-60-day milestones along your way raises your chances of a successful start. This should be supplemented with a strong “Month One” plan with the following elements:
- Really get to know each other
A top initial priority is to know your team members and allow them to know the authentic you. Find out their backgrounds and experiences, what their goals are, and what they expect from you. It’s possible—even likely—that many of the things you’ll hear have never surfaced before. Let them also find out the same about you. One particularly helpful practice is to have a sequence of initial 1:1 conversations to share perspectives. This will accelerate alignment as you move forward.
- Survey the landscape
You were hired because you bring a lot to your new position and company. However, there’s so much to learn, and it’s required of you to build an environment that maximizes your capacity to do so. Achieve this by meeting and building rapport with key clients, vendors, and even previous clients. Ask where they need help, what’s not working, what’s working, what could be improved in the organization, and what actions they would take if they were you. Don’t be afraid to ask the awkward questions—these early days offer a unique opportunity to gain candid insights.
- Think first, act later
New leaders often perceive pressure to act quickly. Although the clock is always running, it’s essential to fight the urge to jump into action. Slow your pace at the beginning so that you can fully and dispassionately analyze the current state of the company and your team. Make a list, revise it often, and prioritize the things you want to change once you have a clearer, fuller picture. Leaders with a more thoughtful approach, in the beginning, will see higher-quality outcomes with stronger organizational buy-in.
- Keep your door open
The most important thing to remember as a new executive is that it’s impossible to overcommunicate. Design regular interactions with as many teammates as you can, in whatever format you find effective. Keep open blocks on your calendar devoted to informal team interactions, and prioritize your own visibility and accessibility. This early investment of time will pay off in substantially better trust, and ultimately faster progress.
The transition to a new executive role is a special time filled with both opportunity and risk. This unique situation is discussed at length in my book Beyond the Superhero: Executive Leadership for the Rest of Us. Please connect with me to continue the conversation!