Thursday, February 12, 2015

The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins (Book Review #12 of 2015)

The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Updated and Expanded
This is a really useful book filled with sage advice for anyone assuming a leadership position, particularly as a former outsider to the organization. It's filled with reminders that you don't walk in with "the answer," that instead winning the trust and respect of your cohorts is a learning process that you should begin with great intensity. The first half of the book relates directly to someone who is assuming a management role, the next quarter of the book is about what to do as a new employee serving under a boss or bosses (perhaps as a mid-level manager). The last bit of the book gives a brief introduction to strategic thinking and the book concludes with questions to ask yourself (and your family) in evaluating your transition. It is applicable to any firm, church, non-profit, and even (mostly) the government.

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.

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