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© 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.
Excerpt from www.NDMA.COM, © 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.

NDMA Services: Job Entry Strategy

think through your plan before day-1 in your new job, and position yourself as a transformational leader

Dean Meyer

"You only have one chance to make a first impression."

Beyond that aphorism, the first few months on a new job are an opportune time to establish your vision and strategy.

You enter with an initial "pile of credibility chips." You accumulate more by listening and responding to critical issues. But early in your tenure, you have to invest those chips wisely in a strategy that creates your legacy.

There are popular books on your first 90 or 100 days. They all speak to listening before acting. But they may miss the concept of organizational strategy (Dean's specialty).

Case Study: Job Entry Strategy: How a Transformational Leader Approaches the First 90 Days
In my first 90 days, I listened; then instead of reacting to problems, I developed an organizational strategy.
by Preston T. Simons (2018)

"Dean coached me on my job-entry strategy before I started the job.

His experience, guidance, and structured approach were invaluable in developing a strategy that bought me instant credibility with executive leadership, and full
buy-in to where I want to take the function.

He helped me to establish myself as a strong leader right out of the gate."
Mike Wilcox
Director, IT, Artic Cat

Dean guides you through the following steps:

  1. Plan your listening phase: Before day one, define your "brand," and plan your listening strategy with specific questions to ask up, down, and sideways. (Since you're not yet on the job, Dean does this on a complimentary basis.)

  2. Hold your fire: During the listening phase, make no decisions and take no actions unless absolutely necessary; you don't want to be labelled a "gun-slinger." As your coach, Dean can help you judge what's worth reacting to during this phase (even if it delays your strategy). Everything else will be addressed by your strategy.

  3. Develop your strategy: Craft a document that describes your vision and strategy:

    • Vision: A detailed vision of what your end-state organization will look like, with quotes (from your listening) that reinforce the need for excellence in those things.

    • Gaps: A strengths/weaknesses assessment in the context of your vision, with quotes that illustrate the gaps.

    • Triage items: A conservative assessment of which gaps are so urgent as to require direct and immediate action ("triage" items). Only critical issues should make this list, since the triage phase should be kept short so as to get going on the transformation strategy.

    • Root-cause analysis: Treating gaps as symptoms of systemic problems, analysis of the root causes of the rest of the gaps -- the organizational systems (structure, governance, culture, methods and tools, metrics and rewards) that are causing the gaps.

    • Transformation strategy: A sequence of organizational initiatives that will address all the gaps and build your visionary organization.

  4. Socialize your strategy: Communicate your vision and strategy up, down, and sideways. This will build support (credibility chips) and buy you time to implement the strategy.

  5. Fight only the select few fires: Address the selected triage issues (accumulating more chips).

  6. Move into the transformation phase ASAP: In parallel, develop the implementation plan for the first organizational initiative. You'll cash in some chips to gain support for this investment, but win even more back as the transformation process delivers results.

Dean can help you establish your image as a balance of listening and decisiveness; short-term fire-fighter and long-term strategist; and business/technology/organizational saavy.

The result: You'll be seen as a visionary, a pragmatist, and a transformational leader.


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