The 100-day plan you need for your new job

By CA Today

1 December 2016

Starting a new role? Use a 100-day plan to make the most of those vital first impressions.

Inaugurated in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt used his first speech to make promises.

He swore he would guide the country through recession and, in his first 100 days, Roosevelt pushed no fewer than 15 new bills through Congress, an unprecedented burst of law-making which is still considered a historical achievement.

Fast-forward to the present day, and the concept of a 100-day plan remains popular among chief executives.

But making a 100-day plan isn't just for the C-suite - the first 100 days is a chance for any new employee to prove their worth.

Before you start...

What is a 100-day plan? In a business context, the term refers to a plan presented on a new executive's first day in the office. The idea is to bring in a new leader with a clear agenda and to allow them to set achievable goals which will ensure their smooth transition into the organisation.

The first-100-days approach treats the first three months of your job as an opportunity to establish your identity, build relationships and set measurable goals. While a more agile, reactive approach is always going to be useful, a solid plan can help you find your feet.

Find out what relationships or positions connect you as an employee to the end user of the service.

Before starting any new role, research is absolutely vital. You will already have gathered information about the company in preparation for your interview, but now it is time to dig a little deeper.

You need to know who the key stakeholders are. Find out what relationships or positions connect you as an employee to the end user of the service. 

There are various free mind map tools you can use to map key relationships within an organisation, and externally - have a look at MindMup, MindMeister or Wisemapping to get started.

Finding your feet and managing transition

Winning people over is not always going to be easy - every company has its own office politics. One way to make a good first impression is to build into your 100-day plan some ideas for generating quick wins.

You are a fresh pair of eyes in this organisation - what processes have you spotted which could be streamlined or improved? Can you spot a way to improve the company's bottom line? If so, don't sit on these ideas for too long - speak to your boss and your team, and find out how to achieve effective change quickly.

Unravelling the politics in an office can be a huge challenge, but the key is to listen more than you talk, especially in your first few weeks. Use your relationship map to find out who works well with whom, and which difficult or strained relationships impede progress.

Your 100-day plan should revolve around building lasting relationships, both formal and informal. Listen - ask questions, observe and, if you need to, take notes.

Use clear, precise language and always try to keep a cool head. Listening is your most important skill - learn from the best practice of other employees and draw on their knowledge of the organisation's hierarchy to achieve the results you want. Find out what processes your predecessor put in place and decide which ones will work for you and which you will need to change.

Controlling perception of yourself as a new employee is absolutely vital. Be sure to dress smartly, arrive punctually and practice transparency. First impressions count and you only have a short time to make them.

Read as widely as possible - search for industry publications, the latest available internal reports and plans and ask colleagues if they have any guidelines or training documents. Learn about the close competitors in your industry and how they relate to your stakeholders, as this could provide ideas for strategic approaches.

Your 100-day plan should revolve around building lasting relationships, both formal and informal. Until you get to know your colleagues professionally and personally, managing their expectations and fulfilling tasks to their satisfaction will remain guesswork. Listen - ask questions, observe and, if you need to, take notes. Don't be tempted to rush straight home at the end of the day - cultivate friendships with key colleagues and stakeholders.

Plan to win

Now you can start to solidify the elements of your 100-day plan. You need to define your own priorities as an employee and begin to narrow down your focus. Where can you add the most value? Who can you rely on to help put your ideas into practice?

After familiarising yourself with the vision and mission of the company, ask yourself how these align with your own values and what is expected of you in your new role.

plot chart

Creating the desired climate is a matter of managing relationships, both internally and externally. Clarity, transparency and availability are all qualities which will allow you to bring people with you when you want to take action. Without effective communication, you may struggle to turn a plan into an achievement.

Set specific goals - both long-term and short-term. Ask yourself what you can realistically achieve, and where your skills can best be utilised. Consult regularly with your manager or team leader, and think about setting some SMART goals formally with them. Keeping goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely in mind is a good way to ensure you work smarter, not harder.

As the new President Elect and business tycoon Donald Trump sets out goals for his own first 100 days in office, we may be about to see exactly why the concept of a 100-day plan has become such an essential tool for those in business.

Much of the discussion of his stated goals so far has focused on the unrealistic or unachievable objectives he set for himself during his long and hard-fought campaign - a reminder, if you needed one, to keep your goals realistic, and never promise what you might struggle to deliver.

One thing is certain - if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail. So get planning!


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