The startling reality is that in business, as in the footballing world, many managers last no longer than one year in a new post - with many leaving much sooner. Indeed, Meg Whitman CEO of Hewlett Packard is no doubt hoping to break the pattern after becoming the company’s third CEO in as many years.
Once in place there are still no guarantees. According to executive search firm Russell Reynolds the average tenure of a FTSE 100 CEO has fallen 20%, with latest figures revealing it to be just 4.6 years.
So how can a manager ensure they don’t face relegation before they have really got started?
Whether you’re in line for one of the most high profile management positions in the UK, or moving to head up a FTSE 100 or other established organisation, your days may be numbered - unless you take heed of some 90-day key pointers.
The new England football team manager may be more used to 90 minutes on the pitch than a 90-day countdown in the boardroom, but that is how long they will have to make an impact.
If you’re currently facing this situation, or aspire to, then here are the top seven questions to ask yourself. This may seemed a little too calculated, but if you don’t calculate you may get caught offside in the first few minutes of the game.
What are you getting into?
Assess the organisational situation that you’re joining, the culture and get to know your key stakeholders and bosses before you sign up. One of the biggest problems occurs at the moment of ‘but this isn’t as I expected it’. The existing culture and key stakeholders have a huge impact on your chances of being successful. Know them well and know what you’re signing up for. Make sure the role will play to your strengths and is a platform on which you can be successful.
What style of leadership is required?
Assess the situation. Is it failing, or successful and growing? Is it efficient or in a comfort zone? Is it small and nimble or large and political? Is the culture open and progressive, or resistant to change? How do the employees, the Board, the shareholders and the customers feel about the current situation? What is underneath the surface? The style of leadership you used in your previous workplaces won’t necessarily maximise success in the next. So think carefully and choose how you operate and the nature of your transition.
Have you shifted your mindset?
The new role will be different to your last one. You may need a fundamentally different mindset and behaviours. For example, the skills, approach and focus used to succeed as Finance Director is very different to your new CEO role. Don’t forget to promote yourself mentally.
Have you agreed expectations?
What we all want is for the new England manager to take over and lead our team to victory in the European Championships the minute he walks through the door….but the reality is that may be one step too far at this stage. How will they manage these expectations - those of his bosses, and of the nation? It’s critical to agree realistic expectations in your first few months. By doing this early you are making your focus clear, ensuring you’re in alignment and you can manage any unrealistic goals.
Who are the important relationships?
You will need to quickly ascertain who are the people you most need on your side. Where is the power and influence throughout the organisation and within its stakeholders? Who needs to buy into and support you? In the ‘busyness’ of the first few months, it’s too easy to forget the critical importance of certain relationships.
How can you score some early goals?
From the minute you arrive all eyes will be on you and the clock will be ticking. Scoring a couple of great goals in the first 20 minutes makes a huge difference. It’s important to identify a few quick wins; small or large, that will create positive momentum and build your credibility.
What is your vision and strategy?
By day 90 in the role you should be in a position to present your vision and strategy. You’ve absorbed the current situation, built some relationships, made an initial difference, assessed information, gained insights and now you need to be able to present a plan for the future of the organisation. At this point, if done well, you will gain the respect and credibility on which others will follow you. You will also provide clarity and inspiration to others, and gain the right to play the next 90 days.