Move Up the Ladder by Creating a 100-Day Plan

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If you’re trying to advance into a more senior role, either from inside or outside an organization, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job by giving your future boss a preview of what you intend to accomplish during your first 100 days.

Creating an action plan demonstrates your readiness and ability to navigate the critical transition period, which is widely regarded as a predictor of overall success or failure in the job. If you haven’t created a 100-day plan before—here’s a look at some key things to include and some political minefields to avoid, as well:

Clarify the Expectations

When Matt Hartzman created a 100-day plan that earned him a promotion to CIO, he began by confirming his understanding of the enterprise, his role, and where IT wanted to go.

Hartzman, who now serves as business development executive for RedMane Technology, suggested that your objectives and ideas may fall flat unless you know what you’re expected to do.

Management strategists agree with this approach. “Being clear on your mandate is vital,” said CEO advisor Robert Hargrove. “Does your boss want you to make immediate changes, or land softly and make gradual changes? You need to know the expectations up front so you can create a matching strategy.”

Even if you don’t have an in-depth understanding of the issues or the culture, you can still demonstrate your leadership skills by using a 100-day plan as a canvas to explain how you intend to approach your assignment. “You don’t need to outline all the solutions,” Hargrove said, “As long as you understand the process, you can fill in the blanks later.” 

Take an External Approach

Even internal candidates can boost their odds of success by taking an external perspective and approach. Remember, your actions and decisions as a tech manager will have implications beyond your own department.

Explain how you intend to expand your understanding of the organizational culture, the challenges of the role, and the perspective of stakeholders, current employees and external customers. Assessing the perceptions and needs of others without bias can help you recognize lingering problems and generate innovative solutions.

Create a Blueprint

Turn your knowledge into a blueprint by prioritizing the goals you want to achieve during your first 100 days, and briefly outlining your action steps. Here’s a list of things to include and exclude when drafting your plan:

Staff Development: Whether your objective is to close skill gaps and boost staff retention by introducing cross-training programs, initiate succession planning, or improve the effectiveness of the project management team, give equal time to the human side of your operation.

“Since your success will be predicated on those around you, address staff development and plan your exit from the outset, but in a soft way,” Hartzman advised.

Score Early and Often: Don’t expect a honeymoon. Affirm your competence and build confidence and credibility by identifying weak spots and scoring some early wins in terms of lowering costs, replacing poor performers or using an ITIL framework to improve customer satisfaction.

Foster Relationships: You can’t succeed by yourself. Include a strategy to connect and build good working relationships with executives, suppliers and line managers outside of IT.

Avoid Criticism

Don’t be too quick to criticize a process or structure, or declare a need for radical change, especially if you’re an outsider, Hartzman advised. “Otherwise, you may unintentionally offend the process owner and ruin your chances of landing a managerial position,” he said.

Image Credit: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com

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