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The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels Hardcover – September 18, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
This earnest guide to career transition periods-when a new job or promotion puts an employee in an unfamiliar role-asserts, reassuringly, that navigating the all-important first 90 days is a "teachable skill." Business professor Watkins, co-author of Right From the Start: Taking Charge in a New Leadership Role, lays out a "standard framework" for leadership transitions, based on "five fundamental propositions," "ten key challenges," and a four-fold typology of situations that new managers find themselves in. Fortunately, Watkins balances the theorizing with practical steps managers can take to get on top of things and initiate changes, including elaborate self-assessment checklists, planning exercises and meticulous guidelines on how to have conversations with underlings and bosses. His advice, if not very original, is sound. He warns managers not to assume that their existing skills will suffice for new roles, advises them to pursue small-scale "early wins" to boost credibility, and admonishes workplace Machiavellis to "avoid pressing for closure until you are confident the balance of forces acting on key people is tipping your way." Watkins's penchant for cut-and-dried schematizations sometimes goes overboard, especially in the book's plethora of elementary graphs, tables, diagrams and matrices (novice orators are informed that "classic values invoked to convince others to embrace potentially painful change are summarized in table 8-1," while the oceanic topic of "Intersecting Cultural Dimensions" gets boiled down to a three-ring Venn diagram). But if the content of Watkins's counsel is not always obviously helpful, his systematized approach to thinking will at least help panicky executives keep their wits about them.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In these days of the public's microscopic scrutiny of corporate C-level executives, it's a wonder anyone would aspire to the CEO position. Amazingly enough, many eager managers are still climbing--and Harvard Business School professor and author (Right from the Start ) Watkins helps prepare them for career moves, accelerating their transitions. This is, essentially, practical advice about undertaking new opportunities and understanding new vulnerabilities, quickly and without much upheaval. Different steps--sometimes simultaneously, sometimes sequential-- define success in the first three months, from promoting yourself (i.e., taking charge fast) to keeping your balance. Anecdotes enliven the checklists and sample learning plans; in fact, one specific case--Douglas Ivester of Coca-Cola--underscores the absolute necessity to adapt and change rapidly in new positions. Much content is human resources related, based on self-discipline, team building, and the availability of trusted advice and counsel. Would that every newly elected president of the U.S. heeded this practice. Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Here's a summary of the points I gleaned:
- Establish your integrity in first 30 days.
- Learn all you can about the organization, put on your "historian" hat.
- Don't suggest changes without examining what has been done previously.
- Silence is not accession.
- Meet with everyone in the organization to evaluate their expectations. Ask them what they think you should focus on.
- Ask same questions of all so no one treated different and you have a cross-section.
- Look for "early wins," low-hanging fruit of improvements you can make or other things to boost morale.
Dealing with your boss in the first 30 days:
- Be proactive, assume it's on your shoulders to build the relationship and get the support you need.
- Schedule meetings to discuss expectations, evaluations, and personal development.
- Figure out what would give your boss "early wins." Make his priorities your priorities.
- Be proactive in doing things that will allow your boss to hear from people he trusts that you're a good worker.
- Don't bring your boss bad news early, at least without bringing good news too.
- Don't assume he will change. He has a style, foibles, accept them and work around then and move on. You can learn a lot from a bad boss, and you will likely have many.
- Examine how others relate to your boss and how he responds.
- Begin figuring out who you need to move off your team immediately, whose roles need to change, and who you need to evaluate further.
- Think strategically. After your first 90 days you should be able to present a plan that is actionable.
- Evaluate the vision of the organization, its values, and use SWOT analysis.
Ask yourself feedback questions every week.
- What isn't going well. Why? What can you change?
- What are you least happy about. What can you change about it?
- What meeting troubled you the most? ""
- What conflict needs to be most resolved? ""
Family also has to be considered. How is your new role and time commitment affecting your family? Was the move worth it?
The author doesn't state it like this, but focus on doing what's best next.
I give this book 4.5 stars out of 5. I highly recommend it.