First 100 days

Someone pointed out to me that I’ve had my first 100 days in my new role. Since that number is a purely arbitrary number I thought I’d jot down some working out loud style piffle about stuff I’ve done or should be learning from. I was slightly taken aback to read what I had planned to write in this article at the weekend – as that author had obviously proactively plagiarised me by writing their piece first, but if you choose to read that instead I’ll understand.

Stuff I’ve tried to do.

  • Not be overtly evil. When you first step into a new role people’s desire to spot signals of intent are heightened so I’ve tried to not be evil. It probably hasn’t always worked, but I’ve tried
  • Talk to people about them rather than the work. If I’m going to do good work with people that will be built on trust – so the work needs to follow the building of trust
  • Built shared frameworks/models that we can work to together. We’ve worked on common models and language so when we say a thing we know what we are talking about. Mental shortcuts that show shared understanding
  • Pushed for patience. That’s an odd one but I’m trying to focus people on not what we want to do now but what we want to start building for 5 years time
  • Set some clear markers as to what I will accept and won’t in terms of behaviour
  • Tried to make myself accessible to folk outside my immediate team – their teams, their teams’ teams and people around the organisation
  • Put stuff in buckets – fix, prioritise, investigate. This has helped us categorise work into a useful phased plan. Is it broken? Fix it. Is it one of a number of things we could do? Work out where in priorities. Is it unclear? Investigate it
  • Cold assessment of the facts, warm development of behaviours. I’ve got that up in my office and when people drift into the wrong frame of mind I just point. Now people have started pointing at it when I speak too – which means they trust me enough to tell me off whilst smiling
  • Plan communication and disciplines. Do this to allow time to think and create. If the basics are tight that frees up time for other stuff
  • Balance visible quick wins with less sexy long term stuff
  • Insist on guff free language and no PowerPoint unless that’s the best way of presenting an idea (clue: rarely)
  • Everyone gets a clean slate – as well as anyone can offer anyone a clear slate
  • Data, data, data, evidence. Just pile it up so we are dealing with more than hearsay – we have a bank of stuff we can check assumptions/hypotheses against
  • Try and balance our work between thinking and doing. Doing things that aren’t thought through ends up with subpar results. Just thinking about doing ends up with no results. I prefer good results

Stuff I’m learning from

  • My ability to say ‘no’ is improving. If my heart would sink if I had to do something tomorrow I won’t agree to doing it in 6 months. I’ll just hate it when it comes around
  • An overhang of commitments from my old role means that I have horrible pinch points in terms of time and that impacts my team and my ability to influence internally
  • I had one meeting where I really sucked and was grumpy. Due to the fact people are looking for signals that’s taken some clawing back
  • My ability to manage my own energy isn’t where it needs to be. Getting there, but could do better
  • People treat you differently even if you don’t want them to. That’s annoying but it is what it is. Me saying ‘no’ to something now has implications beyond me just disagreeing. Me suggesting something becomes a clear request
  • Letting go of some work is tough. I’m getting better at shuffling things on…
  • 4 times I’ve booked a day off and ended up working so that has to change. Over time that is the solution to the question ‘How do I make myself stupider through fatigue?’

Anyway, thanks to everyone for putting up with me. I’ll keep trying to get better.

3 thoughts on “First 100 days

  1. Such a fascinating look inside a management role, David. I really enjoyed reading this as someone who hasn’t held this type of position before.

    If you find some solutions to not working on off days, saying no, and managing your own energy, I would love to hear about them!


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