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A New Senior Leader’s First Few Months on the Job

A New Senior Leader's First Few Months on the JobWhen a new senior leader joins an oganization, the first few months should be focused on the following:

  • Getting to know the organization
  • Understanding the culture
  • Getting to know the people

When a new leader takes the time necessary to understand the “in’s and  out’s” of the oganization, she increases her chances of success in the role and is able to make a more significant impact. There is a tendency to feel that as a senior leader we need to jump in with both feet and begin to make our mark on the organization. This does not work in the long run and only sets up the senior leader for failure. Taking the time to understand the organization and its people in-depth enables for better decision making overall and gives senior leaders the buy-in needed to move forward when changes are made.

Getting to know the organization: Getting to know the organization is essential to understanding how a new senior leader fits into the organization. This includes understanding where the organization has been and where it wants to go. Spending time with other senior leaders to understand their successes and challenges enables for a better understanding of the organization as a whole. A new senior leader will want to learn:

  • Long term goals and objectives of the organization
  • Challenges the organization has faced or may face in the future
  • Processes and procedures in place within the organization
  • Vendors, partners and others with whom the organization interacts regularly
  • Organizational successess
  • Competition
  • The customers of the organization
  • An in-depth knowledge of the products and services offered to customers

Understanding the culture: When a senior leader gets to know the organization, she also begins to understand the culture of the organization. Fully understanding the culture however requires the new senior leader to understand how decisions are made and work gets done beyond the formal processes and procedures in place. Look for informal power structures within the organization, informal leaders – the “go to” people.

Getting to know the people: The work of the organization cannot get done and the organization cannot be successful without the people who accomplish the daily routine/tasks of the work. Prior to getting out there and getting to know the people of the organization review the organization chart so there is an understanding of who is within the organization and their roles and responsibilities. For those staff for whom the senior leader is ultimately responsible, review performance evaluations and resumes of staff members. Understand the people with whom you will be working with regularly. Who is the top talent? Who are the decision makers? Who is creative and innovative? Who are the “go to” people that others rely on to get work done and get decisions made? Which are closest to the customers? The better the senior leader knows the people within the organization the easier it is to build relationships and truly understand the organization’s culture.

When a new senior leader takes the time to immerse herself within the organization, she gains a better understanding of what needs to be done to take the organization to the next level and enables her to move forward with initiatives with support of not just other senior leaders but also of all employees within the organization.

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