Executive career transition rarely ends when a delegate receives a job offer. There’s still often work to do at the end of a successful outplacement programme. Chiumento MD Mike Burgneay explains how we help individuals land successfully in new roles.
The first 100 days in any new job are critical. And for executives the stakes are extremely high. That’s why many of our executive outplacement delegates choose to use any remaining coaching hours in their outplacement programme to work with one of our on-boarding specialists. Its a different kind of coaching to helping someone land a job offer.
What we’ve discovered in 30 years of Executive career transition is that landing successfully tends to focus on four critrical elements.
Establishing clear priorities
You will have been told a lot about the role during the recruitment process. However, you can’t afford to assume you’ve got the whole picture. There will, almost inevitably, be bits of the story you haven’t been told. Things that maybe are politically or commercially sensitive. Those will only be shared once you are “part of the family”.
It is also easy, in any new job, to get drawn to “bright shiny new things” – but beware those may not be the immediate priorities. Those glamorous projects may need to wait while you drill down and solve some “burning platform” operational issues. It is really key in your first 100 days to work out what you need to do, and in what order. Putting it bluntly, what will score you points with the key stakeholders and what won’t? Those early “low hanging fruit” wins will establish your credibility and set you up for a successful future.
Everyone has a “to do list”. What most people don’t have is a “deliberate neglect list”. That’s something we encourage every executive to have. It forms the basis of a powerful discussion with your new boss about the things you know need doing but which need putting to one side while you tackle more important issues. Having such a list means you both have clarity about what you are doing – and what you are not.
Building powerful relationships
We’ve recently published an article about “Why don’t I get on with my manager?”. It looks at how differences in preferred ways of operating can put tension on reporting relationships. In your first 100 days a top priority is therefore learning how to become a good subordinate – or, in other words, manage upwards.
You need to give your new CEO/Director, and your key stakeholders, what they want in the way they need it. Your preference may be “big picture” and strategic. Looking ahead into the future. That quickly becomes a challenge if your new boss is “here and now” orientated with a passion for detail. Somehow you have to navigate a path that recognises their needs are different to yours. Not expect them to completely change their approach because you’ve just arrived.
Adaptability is key. You need to be alert to others behaviours and work in ways that make you a valued collaborator. In time they’ll value your different outlook – and you can undoubtedly learn from theirs.
Measuring the pace of the organisation
Often senior executives are brought in to drive change. Just how quick you can make those changes depends on the pace of the organisation. Think of it like a metronome that governs the speed with which things can happen. Go too slowly and people will question your ability to make things happen. Go too fast and you can create fear and uncertainty.
Part of your job might be to speed up the pace. If it is then you need to push the edge of the envelope.
What you need to establish quickly is what you can change and what you can’t. And who are the “gatekeepers” to the resources and authority to get things done.
Setting clear boundaries
Many Executives talk to us about how they struggle with work-life integration. Working long hours, answering emails evenings and weekends and struggling to switch off. Starting a new job is the chance to set new boundaries and introduce new disciplines.
For example, how about setting yourself a time to turn your work mobile off – and another to go back on line? Depending on your job those boundaries might be different, but it will create a window in your day when your attention can be elsewhere.
Have the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time? Then establish a pattern early on. People will quickly get used to the idea that you are only in the office certain days each week and begin to work around that.
Also establish healthy habits like always taking at least a short daily break away from your desk. Go for a walk, visit the gym or simply grab a coffee and find a space to enjoy it. Don’t skip lunch, sit at your desk all day or book back-to-back meetings. Don’t end up on a treadmill of your own making.
All Chiumento Executive Outplacement delegates now have the opportunity to use part of their programme to complete their Executive Career transition. To find out more about our Executive Outplacement programmes click here.