The Clock Starts Now: Five Ways to Make Your First 100 Days Successful
As communicators, we advise CEOs on how to make an impact in their first 100 days – but do all of us, follow the same school of thought when starting a new role?
We know that in this early period, the reputation you bring will either be validated or discredited. Everything you say or do will be scrutinised and perceptions will be formed about your approach.
With this in mind, it’s important to quickly establish who you are and what you stand for.
1. Setting out your stall
Research shows that most senior leaders still don’t truly understand how much communications can impact the business’ bottom line. So, the first rule of starting a new communications job – don’t assume.
Communications is still such a young function, so are you sure that your stakeholders all fully understand how you plan to add value to the organization this year? Do you have a written strategy of business priorities you can show them in your first 100 days, to show how you’ll support and deliver against these? Beyond gaining instant credibility, this step is also helpful if they try to drag you off in the opposite direction because you can remind them of your set comms priorities.
For quick introductions, consider developing a 30-second elevator pitch that explains your role and responsibilities – and then use this consistently throughout the organisation. The hope is that you become the go-to expert. And we all know, first impressions count.
2. Dive deeply into your industry
The most common complaint I hear from senior leaders regarding the communications industry is around the perceived lack of business acumen. More than once I’ve been told by a senior leader: ‘I’m worried about putting our comms person in with the CEO, as they’d just eat them alive, comms just comes across too soft’.
In your first 100 days besides immersing yourself in on-the-job training, take advantage of formal training such as company classes, industry trade shows, professional meetings and technical seminars. I remember asking one senior comms professional how she had got up to speed when moving into a new industry, and she commented ‘I went and sat in the customer call centre for a week, every day I sat listening and taking notes. It immediately helped me to understand what the real challenges for the business were, and earned me credibility with my peers and leaders. It was a fantastic way to get up to speed…fast’.
3. Be impressive, without biting off more than you can chew
I’ve talked to candidates who have gone in all guns blazing in their first three months only to discover that the organization’s technical systems, culture or indeed leadership won’t actually allow them to execute some of the shiny, bright new ideas they’d discussed at interview stage. Even if you find obstacles in your way, your first 100-days is still a great opportunity to make an impact. There’s also a school of thought, that from a psychological point of view, colleagues are more willing to listen to you within this period, so it’s a great opportunity to really make an impression.
Once you prove your potential as a productive, results-generating member of the team, your credibility is much higher and people will be more open to adopting your ideas and strategies over the long term.
4. Invest in important relationships
Who are the people that have the resources that could either help or hinder you achieving your goals? Zero in on those stakeholders, and focus on developing and enhancing your working relationships with these people.
5. Take stock of your confidence levels
I don’t think there’s a single communicator who I haven’t seen enter a new role, and watched their confidence wane at certain moments through those first early days. What’s most important is to not allow it to deteriorate.
When you start losing your ‘mojo’, self-doubt can creep in and often it becomes a self -fulfilling prophecy and you start making basic mistakes – like spelling errors in the CEO’s announcement or sending a management-only email to all-employees. (True stories).
When you get into this cycle, it’s important to stop, reflect and recognise it’s happening. It may sound like psychobabble, but it does help to make a list of all the things you achieved before joining your current organisation – and the ‘wins’ you’ve achieved since taking on your new role. This lets you take stock of what you’re good at, and zero in on maximising those areas. Also, seek feedback from beyond your immediate line manager. If you’re in a PR agency, ask clients, for in-house check in with employees or other function heads – anyone who can give you an ‘off the record’ pulse check.
And finally give yourself a break. The first 100 days of any new role are generally intense, exhilarating, frightening – and a lot of hard work – and most likely won’t plateau off for the first twelve months.
Remember there is a silver lining though:
In the first year, get the foundation right
In the second year, implement the changes necessary to garner success
And then enjoy the fruits of your labour
So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel yet!
If you are interested in talking to one of our experienced consultants about developing your career in communications, please contact us today.