Today's post is a review of another well-known book about "onboarding", i.e., transitioning into a new job: "The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: A Comprehensive Onboarding Strategy for Leaders at Every Level" by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check and Jorge E. Pedraza. What I like most about the book is the specificity of the questions the authors ask and action steps they recommend - because so many business books are puffed-up magazine pieces that drum up revenue for the authors' consulting practices, I tend to prefer books with concrete, tangible advice that demonstrates clear knowledge of the subject matter on the authors' part. The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan delivers. Not only is it full of valuable content for the leader "at every level", the print version of the book has many fillable forms that are also downloadable for free on the Internet.
Of course, not every single piece of advice the authors give will be applicable to the new graduate or entry-level hire. This is because the entry-level hire won't have any subordinate, or "follower", so how to deal with direct reports and related topics such as how to craft a burning imperative for one's unit and communicate the vision to one's team don't apply. Yet, many of the tasks the authors recommend for the new leader would be of benefit to the new graduate, in particular (I've put my comments in italics, the rest is from the book):
- Define your new role (map and avoid the most common land mines, do your due diligence with a risk assessment checklist before accepting the job)
- Choose the right approach for the business context and culture you face (while the entry-level grad won't define the strategy or the mission, understanding culture and context can only help her do her job and position her for advancement.)
- Craft your message. (Obviously, the message an entry-level hire wants to communicate won't affect the direction of the company the way the CEO's message would, and it will be inner-focused rather than oriented toward the company as a whole. Yet, it is always good to articulate this message clearly so that you can then run everything you do against it and check if your actions are aligned with the impression you want to give of yourself. If you're at a loss for what your message would be: I am a team player who remains calm under stress and gets the job done by the deadline and within specs while maintaining and fostering good relations with my colleagues.)
- Deploy an information gathering and learning plan.
- Make a powerful first impression on your first day. (Think carefully about how you are going to spend Day One. Pay attention to signs and symbols.)
- Embed a Burning Imperative by Day 30. (For an entry-level hire, this burning imperative will most likely be a goal she alone has to achieve, rather than something a team must execute, but it is possible the new hire would enter a company with a whole cohort of new entry-level colleagues and would take the lead among that group.)
- Exploit key milestones to drive team performance by Day 45. (Most likely a team of one for a new hire, but on some occasions, new hires have shown enough leadership potential to be given someone to supervise, such as a co-op or intern.)
- Overinvest in early wins to build team confidence by Day 60. (I can't praise early wins enough, especially for entry-level hires, i.e., people with no track record in the workforce. Early wins show your boss, who often has very little information about you unless you interned for him the previous summer, that he was right in hiring you. Once you have shown he made the correct decision, you will have established yourself as someone who belong in the company. You will be more easily considered for the next step up or forgiven for your mistakes. First impressions matter, and that means first achievements matter too.)
The book's appendices alone more than make up for its price (at $14.28 on Amazon.com, the book is already a steal). I particularly recommend the six basic elements of leadership, the situational assessment using the 5Cs framework: customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors and conditions and the toolbox on how to be a great communicator.
Just go and buy the book already!