Issue No. 191 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting highlights another no-brainer book for your team. Honest—you must read this! But don’t just give it to HR. It’s got off-the-chart insights for the whole team anytime a new manager shows up. And this reminder, check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Your First 90 Days
The title hooked me. The introduction intrigued me. “The president of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself; you get 90.” The first chapter plowed new ground with five propositions on transitioning to a new job. “Too often…the new leader behaves more like a virus…” Really? Why?
In this remarkable book (I can think of seven transitions where this book would have saved me—and others—major pain), Michael Watkins, a Harvard Business School prof, delivers a thoughtful and well-reasoned plan for what he calls “critical success strategies for new leaders at all levels.” It’s the difference between virtuous and vicious. He says, per Proposition #3, “that the overriding goal in a transition is to build momentum by creating virtuous cycles that build credibility and by avoiding getting caught in vicious cycles that damage credibility.”
I’m recommending this to all my clients. The first 90 days of a new job are critical for everyone: first-time managers, long-time managers now leading new departments, plus first-time CEOs and experienced CEOs recruited to other organizations. “Like swimming,” says Watkins, “transitioning is a teachable skill.”
Perhaps the biggest a-ha moment was his brilliant segmenting of the four kinds of organizations (or departments). Which one did you inherit in your last transition? His acronym, “STARS,” describes the four: Start-up, Turn-Around, Realignment, and Sustaining Success. A successful CEO of a Turn-Around may fail at a Realignment. Chapter 3, “Match Strategy to Situation,” is worth the price of the book. The “STARS” theme oozes out and through all the chapters. Example: rewarding success is easiest in a Start-up, and rarely acknowledged in a Realignment. He explains why.
He gives examples across all sizes of organizations: small departments, medium-size companies and then an astounding example from Coca-Cola. Warning leaders than no one is immune from the perils of transition, he discusses the CEO stint of Douglas Ivester, promoted to Coke’s CEO in 1997, after serving three years as president and COO.
“But Ivester was unable to make the leap from COO to CEO. He refused to name a new COO, even when strongly pressed to do so by Coke’s board of directors. Instead, he continued to act as a ‘superCOO’ and maintained daily contact with the sixteen people who reported to him. His extraordinary attention to detail which had been such a virtue in finance and operations, proved to be a hindrance in his new position. Ivester could not free himself from day-to-day operations enough to take on the strategic, visionary, and statesmanlike roles of an effective CEO.”
The Wall Street Journal even piled on. “The job of running a giant company like Coca-Cola Co. is akin to conducting an orchestra, but M. Douglas Ivester, it seems, had a tin ear…[He] knew the math, but not the music required to run the world’s leading marketing organization.”
Yikes. There are a lot more stories and case study examples. I know that I recommend a lot of books. Trust me—every staff resource shelf needs this one. I measure a book by the number of dog-eared pages. You’ve heard of the musical group, “Three Dog Night?” This is a “27 Dog-eared Pages” act—and I’ve become a groupie.
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) The author writes, “Many managers mistakenly assume that they can continue to work with a current boss in the same way despite a different role. Don’t make this error.” Why is this?
2) Watkins lists 11 fundamentals for the new manager or leader as she negotiates for success with her new boss (Example: “Don’t trash the past.”) What would be on your list of fundamentals in your first 90 days for building a great relationship with your new boss?
To order this book from Amazon, click on this link: The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels, by Michael Watkins.
Board AND Staff Orientation - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in the Board Bucket, Chapter 14, in Mastering the Management Buckets is to invest time in cultivating, recruiting, orienting and engaging board members in their strategic role as stewards of your organization.
Lately though, I’ve decided that many organizations—while doing a great job of board orientation—fail miserably to orient their staff (especially new staff) on the appropriate role and job description of board members. The result? Many staff have unrealistic expectations of board members—but never articulate those thoughts through the right channels. So at your next new board member orientation, invite new staff to sit in (when appropriate). It might help with mission alignment.
For more resources from the Board Bucket, including six book recommendations, visit the Management Buckets website.