Your First 90 Days on the Job

I wrote earlier about four critical things you must do when you start a new job (July 17 ‘13 post).

90-day-plan-300x206To recap:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them.

2. Determine how you will be evaluated.

3. Determine what the really important things are.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person.

They are critical and should be your first priority…but there a few other very important things  you need to pay attention to during the critical “break-in” period….your first 90 days on the job.

1. Create a personal game plan…. and update it weekly. This personal game plan will be very short term initially… you can’t make plans for what you don’t know (yet). It is essentially a “To Do/To Follow Up On” list broken into groups – the groups being different direct reports (subordinates), different projects, different things you are waiting for something to come back your way for additional action, etc.

Although there are all sorts of online and smartphone/PC applications for such things, I have always preferred to keep this very simple – an 8 ½ x 11 lined pad with pages devoted to each “group”. Makes it easy to refer and write to it day and night. The top sheet is blank except for my name and tele # and a request to get it to me if found – it is really important to me… and while I have never lost one… that doesn’t mean I won’t someday <smile>!

Just label each page as to who/what it applies to…when full… go the next blank page. Number the pages by group.

Much of it will truly be “To Do/To Follow Up On” things.. but the reason I reference it as a “game plan” is that it will also have a series of personal objectives there as well. I use a few sheets at the very end of the pad to jot them down and update/revise as necessary.

By putting it all on one pad, it is easy to stay on top of your entire breadth of responsibilities…and it goes with your everywhere! And when it is full – don’t throw it away for a year or so… you might be surprised to see how often you go back and refer to it.

Finally – due to the nature of what you have recorded here – you need to safeguard it very carefully!!

2. Create a reference guide…and update it as frequently as daily. This is a continuing list of “stuff” you will refer to from time to time – such things as procedures, names , tele numbers and email addresses, driving directions, tax ID #s, important deadline dates for whatever  – you get the idea – the stuff you don’t want to have to look up or ask about a second time.

As of this writing, there is a neat pc program called “Evernote” that can really make life easier in this regard.  http://evernote.com   Install it on your PC and your smart phone.. and synch them. That way you can do data entry and retrieval from either. Of course names with tele numbers, addresses and email addresses go into whatever program your employer has set up – usually Outlook.

3. Get a grip on whatever numbers are important to your sphere of responsibility.

You gotta know the numbers. Sales, margins, costs, profits, percentages, ratios, benchmarks. Whatever is important to the objective of getting it done on time and on (or under!) budget.

Every business has ratios and relationships. For example a friend in the hotel business tells me that she staffs housekeepers based on 14. One housekeeper per 14 rooms to be cleaned. Every sales position has a ratio of contacts to presentations to closes. Find out which ratios are relevant to your job, your department, etc.

4. Determine who the external resources are and establish contact with them.

If your job requires you to deal with others external to your organization, make a point to determine who they are and make contact with them.  They might be customers or vendors. They may be outside resources such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, auditors, etc.

Talk to your boss to determine who they might be and be pro-active by reaching out to them. Introduce yourself and let them know they can count on your for whatever role has been the norm in the past.

OK… you now have some guidelines and marching orders for your first 90 days in your new job!

Feel free to post here for the benefit of others your thoughts and ideas you have found successful in this regard!! Thanks!!

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The World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity — former U.S. Presidents

“The world’s most exclusive fraternity” is the tagline of a wonderful book by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy entitled “The President’s Club”.

The President's Club book coverIt details the relationships between ex-U.S. Presidents and the incumbent. Regardless of what is said on the campaign trail, those men (and hopefully a woman one day soon!) all recognize the rigors of the job and that the advice and assistance of those that have walked the halls of The White House before can be both helpful and comforting.

The book is a great read – with “aha” stuff you never knew and a broad sprinkling of humor. It also details what happens when an ex-president outruns his blockers as Jimmy Carter did on more than one occasion!

Why do I devote space in this blog to it? Because it is also a series of great leadership lessons and illustrates that “only time will tell” how wise were certain decisions and how history now views former presidents compared to what the public thought in their first years out of office.

I strongly recommend the book…and you will learn from the successes and mistakes of these former presidents.

presidentsAnd while you are at it… take a look at the wonderful piece by David Shribman in The Salem News entitled “The new George H.W. Bush.” It talks of the work done by presidents after they leave office – their so-called “second lives”. John Quincy Adams served in Congress for several terms after leaving office…and with nothing to prove was at times a real pain to the incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue! Shribman’s article coverage also includes U.S. Grant, Harry Truman, James Garfield, Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson and Bush 41.

http://www.salemnews.com/opinion/x1912998280/Shribman-The-new-George-H-W-Bush

Leadership – never stop learning!

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Taking Charge When Taking Over

Taking Charge When Taking Over

Where to begin when you are hired to be the boss??

take_charge

By Marshall Brown, CPCC, President Marshall Brown & Associates. Published in Association TRENDS. Reprinted with permission. While this specifically is geared to a trade association executive, the issues are the same that need to be addressed when a manager at any level is hired to take over an existing team.

Q: I recently became the CEO of a mid-sized association and will be managing a staff of 30. I would like to develop and convey some clear expectations for the staff and give the directors some guidance on implementation. Any tips would be appreciated.

Brown: Too often, executives seem to lead through mental telepathy. Rather than set and communicate clear expectations – the milestones against which we test our progress – they assume their managers and employees know what to do and how to do it. What results is hesitation, indecision and uncertainty. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.

Properly setting expectations for directors and employees/team members is a critical dimension in quality workplaces, according to a study of managers undertaken in the 1990s by the Gallup Organization. Below are some tips for both you and your directors on setting clear expectations that will set standards for excellence and results:

1. Start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like. Not just what you want done, but the results you want to achieve when the project is completed.

2. Discuss how you define “excellent performance.” Paint a complete picture. Refer to your performance review form. Don’t assume.

3. Focus on the desired outcome, not on describing each and every step. Your goal is to guide, not control. Letting individuals find their own route toward productive outcomes encourages them to use their strengths.

4. Tie the mission of the department to each job. People want to know that their role, whether large or small, makes a difference.

5. Put the expectations in writing.

6. Stay on the sideline. You may be tempted to step in and ‘play the game’ for a subordinate, but if you do, no one will learn.

7. Give feedback, and often! The annual performance review is too late to let staff members know how they are meeting your expectations. Schedule informal review time weekly (quarterly for larger departments). Feedback given along the way sounds more like coaching, not like punishment.

8. Ask for staff members’ feedback on how they think they are doing. Two-way communication clarifies expectations.

9. Give positive reinforcement. Don’t mix negative and positive. Mention the thing you like and you’ll get more of it. Be specific and prompt.

10. Don’t take it personally. When staff members don’t perform as you think they should have, look for solutions, not blame.

This article was originally published in the March 2011 edition of Marshall Brown & Associates’ It’s All About You! Ezine.

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Four Things You MUST Do When You Start A New Job!

Four Things You MUST Do When You Start A New Job!

first 90 daysGetting “On Board”; What To Do…and Not To Do… in the First 90 days!

OK.. you just started your new job or you will very soon.

Just because you have accepted an offer doesn’t mean  your job search is over!! Part of a successful job search is to become acclimated and begin to make meaningful contributions as quickly as possible. Your objective is to cement key relationships, get the lay of the land and ….make no mistakes.

Have you ever seen a football player on the way to a sure touchdown inexplicably drop the ball….or stumble and fall…or quit running 100% and get tackled? It happens!! In each case, the player quit before the job was done.

Well, your job search isn’t “done” until you are “On Board”!

As the phrase goes “First Impressions Count”…and think of the first impression period to be the first 90 days. Give yourself a maximum of 90 days to:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them. Not so much that you become a pest, of course, but your objective is to really get to know them and where they fit in. Your boss is  one of them of course, but who are the others? Typically, they are those who depend on you for specific assistance or performance on issues and those upon who you likewise depend. Tread cautiously  in conversation; some will be more private than others…and don’t get caught up in company nonsense or politics… but engage them professionally to see what makes them tick.

But beware – it may not end with this group. You need “EA” – “Environmental  Awareness” to know for sure who fits into this category. For example you want to have a good speaking relationship with the security guard, the cashier in the company cafeteria and the main building receptionist. Even though you don’t count on them directly nor they of you – you want them singing your praises!

2. Determine how you will be evaluated. What is the criteria that your boss will grade you on to determine if he or she made a great hire… or an “ok” hire? You should have started this during the interview process. Now that you have been hired, you probably have a pretty good feel for what those criteria are… but regardless, have that conversation with your boss during the first few days on the job.  As the first few weeks roll by confirm that you understood the criteria correctly… and do they reconcile with what you see? Check out the organization’s mission statement. Take the temperature on your performance by scheduling some time with your boss every week or so to ask “How am I doing? ….am I missing anything?…etc.”

3. Determine what the really important things are. And be aware they may not be what they seem to be. Is there an overriding project that senior management is really counting on coming in on time and on budget? Are there major problems or issues to be resolved? Making sure that the “trains run on time” is important, but you need to determine what is #1 on your bosses’ “To Do” list and on his bosses’ “To Do” list as well. You don’t want to be guilty of doing a great job on the mundane, but not really earning your pay by making significant and real contributions to the mission and objectives of your department, your boss and the organization.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person. Everywhere of course… but particularly in the areas of greatest importance to the organization. Be curious…see and understand the big picture…pitch in at every opportunity you can to make a difference. Be aware of “turf” issues; always volunteer “Can I give you a hand on this”. And rather than volunteer opinions, ask “Would you like my thoughts on this?” If you see something that doesn’t look quite right – either take care of it… or bring it – diplomatically – to the attention of someone who can take care of it. Being a true “Go To” person requires very good EA (as defined above); you really need to see and be aware of what is going on – both in front of and behind the scenes! Note – this also requires that you do so in an upfront and transparent manner… you are above board at all times!

As a “Go To” person… as time goes on, you will be valued for having been in on the ground floor of past projects, successes, things that didn’t go as expected, etc. It is that collective experience and knowledge that begin to magnify your contributions.

OK… four things to achieve in the first 90 days on the jobwrite them down and post them on where you will see them daily… and then pledge to make progress towards achieving them…daily. Good Luck!

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A Touch of Humility Goes a Long Way

Effective leadership can’t be possible without a good dose of humility. All successful people have it. All effective leaders must have it.

I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.

Mohandas Gandhi

EisenhowerHumility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.

Dwight D Eisenhower

You never know who you are gonna meet on the way down that you treated poorly on the way up.

People with Street Smarts

Eisenhower’s appointment as Supreme Allied Commander to lead the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe in World War II was largely due to his great ability to get along with people. Ike needed to manage the immense and overpowering egos of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery and have them accept him as Supreme Commander. Ike’s sense of humility was the key to a personality that paved the way for his success.

Ike’s quote above applies to anyone who achieves success due to the efforts and sacrifices of others…and that means every successful manager of people. It is the subordinates that do the real work…to make the deadlines… and achieve the plan the boss put together. People will work long and hard for a variety of reasons but will usually balk at doing so for a boss that is arrogant…doesn’t appreciate their efforts…and generally doesn’t treat them well….in other words, someone without a sense of perspective regarding their own importance; a lack of humility..

U.S. Grant

U.S. Grant

Ulysses S Grant – our 16th President and the general that won the American Civil War for Lincoln – had an overriding sense of humility. And for good reason. Grant, West Point class of 1843, was forced to leave the Army in 1854 for allegations of drunkenness. He then failed at every effort after that – farming, bill collecting, selling firewood on the streets of St Louis. He finally became a clerk in his father’s leather goods store. When the Civil War broke out the North needed experienced officers. Grant re-joined the Union Army and quickly came into his own. Having failed to support his family in civilian life, he found great success leading men in battle. Why? To a great deal, how he treated people – friend and foe alike.

A general’s greatest accomplishment is the capture of an enemy army. Which is what Grant did in February, 1862, when his army captured the Confederate army defending Ft Donelson on the Tennessee River. Customarily such an event would call for a ceremony where the surrounding general would offer his sword and sidearm to the victor. When a subordinate asked Grant when and where the surrender ceremony would take place, Grant replied “There will be nothing of the kind. Why should we injure the spirit of brave men, who after all are our own countrymen and brothers?”.

Grant could have celebrated… could have gloated… but he didn’t. Just as one of the first things discussed with Robert E. Lee at Lee’s surrender at Appomattox was Grant asking if Lee’s men needed rations. Humility and thoughtfulness again.

Hu-mil-i-ty (noun)  A modest or low view of one’s own importance; humbleness.

Important for all to keep in mind as we go through life, dealing with people and facing adversity. And perhaps one of the greatest lessons each of us can teach others!

Recommended reading for more about Eisenhower & Grant:

Ulysses S. Grant – Soldier & President by Geofferey Perret – Random House Eisenhower – Soldier & President by Stephen Ambrose – Simon & Shuster

Four Very Important Days 150 Years ago (July 1 – 4, 1863)

Four very important days – July 1-4, 1863….

Lest we forget, July 1-4 of 1863 were very important days to ensuring the continuity of our nation.

The Battle of Gettysburg July 1 – 2 – 3 …often referred to as the “high water mark” of the Confederacy… pitted two West Point graduates.. Robert E. Lee (CSA) and George Gordon Meade (USA). After 3 days of fighting in brutal heat and humidity (in wool uniforms by the way), Lee retreated back to Virginia. Never again would the Confederacy cross the Mason-Dixon Line.On July 4, 1863 John Pemberton (CSA) surrendered the Confederate stronghold ofVicksburg, MS after a prolonged siege by U.S. Grant (USA) and the Union Army. Never again would the Confederacy control the Mississippi River.

While the war would rage on for almost two more years, the ultimate outcome was never in doubt. Gettysburg and Vicksburg were the two Union victories the Confederacy couldn’t overcome.As you celebrate the Fourth, keep in mind the brave soldiers on both sides that fought and died in America’s seminal event 1861-1865.

God Bless America.

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Traits of Success!

Traits of success – what do successful people credit for why they have achieved success?

successSuccessful people – when asked, “What has helped you achieve success?” Or ”What are the traits you have nurtured to get where you are?” – will respond with a variety of nouns and descriptive phrases. Some of the most common are detailed below. Take a look at these and check off those that you possess… and add the others to your personal “to do” list.

Do the same for your subordinates and develop a coaching program for each of them so they too can begin to check off as “got it” these desired traits of successful people.

  1. Great and positive attitude. The glass is – at least outwardly – ALWAYS half full. Be “up”…smile…portray that problems and obstacles are to be tackled and resolved. Having a great positive attitude is the first step to being a “Go To” person – a desired state of being for anyone! Have a personal methodology to get and keep your attitude positive, especially when things go wrong. Check the websites and thoughts of Tim Connor  (www.timeconnor.com) , David Rich (www.contagioustalk.com) and Angelo Agrafiotis (www.aaimlifecoaching.com) when you need a mental shot in the arm.
  2. Stay on message. To do otherwise confuses people as to what is important and what the mission is. Repeat the message over and over again… otherwise, people will forget and stray off message. Like the parlor game of telephone where a verbal message is passed down the line and emerges bearing no resemblance to the original message… only by repeating the message will it get to all and be retained in its original form. One memo… one presentation…one speech will never get it done… tenacity is critical.
  3. Be upfront, straightforward and honest…at all times. Simple and direct avoids confusion. No obfuscation…no “blowin’ smoke” about “what’s going on”. Your subordinates and those you work with need to be able to predict how your think and how you make decisions in order to be in sync with you. Being upfront and straightforward leads to predictability. When you use facts and figures – be sure you are right on; getting them wrong leads people to conclude you were playing fast and fancy with the facts.
  4. Be curious. Curiosity leads you and your co-workers to explore new and better ways to do things. It counters the brain “stagnation” that can set in within an organization. Cultivate “environmental awareness” – what is going on around you and – and consider how it all fits in. Read, learn and ponder the “what-ifs” regarding your organization, department or job!
  5. Be a very good listener. When you are talking with someone – give it 100% of your attention. It is just rude to listen and also multi-task on your PDA or let your eyes wander around the room. If you are going to listen to someone, you have two objectives: a. Hear and understand what he or she has to say; and, b. Have him or her leave the conversation feeling they had your total and complete attention.. .the impact is for the person to feel that they were the most important person in the room.
  6. Intensity of focus. Be very, very serious about achieving excellence in your realm of responsibility. Never accept second-best … and if it happens regardless, have a plan to fix it. Remember the parable of the farmer’s cow in the ditch. The three-step process is:

a. First – get the cow out of the ditch.

b. Second – Figure out how the cow got in the ditch.

c. Third – Create and implement a plan so it can never happen again.

Most people do #1…and maybe #2. People that are serious about excellence take the time to do all three!

OK – these are six characteristics of successful people in their own words. See if you agree…and to what degree do you possess and practice them!

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