How Executives Can Make a Good First Impression

An executive’s first weeks and months at a new job are the chance to make a great impression — or an unflattering one.

An estimated 38 percent to 50 percent of new executive hires are pushed out or leave their positions within 18 months, often because they didn’t fit into the company culture, weren’t nimble enough or didn’t gain the respect and esteem of other managers and their direct reports.¹

Such statistics stress the importance of executives planning for how they can maximize the early days of a new job. Here are four tips from management experts:

1. Meet with key stakeholders.

As soon as you start a new position — or ideally even before you start — identify the people within the organization who are important to your success. This may include direct reports, leaders, peers or support personnel. Call or grab coffee with these people as soon as possible to start building key relationships.

2. Gather information.

The more you learn about your role and the organization early on, the better able you’ll be to perform your executive duties and avoid reputation costing mistakes. This includes asking the right questions of the right people. It also means prioritizing and knowing which topics or parts of the company you need to familiarize yourself with quickly. You don’t want to spend too much time early on learning about subjects that aren’t essential to performing your job well.

3. Cultivate your management style.

How others view you within the organization is critical to your success. Consider how you will communicate most effectively with your reports and peers, and whether your management style is informal and “open door” or more formal and structured. How often do you envision having meetings with your reports? Do you prefer email or face-to-face communication? How will you foster camaraderie on your team and build loyalty? How will you provide feedback to employees? Understanding personal management style and communicating it to the people you work with will help manage expectations and ensure a smoother start.

4. Create a three-month plan.

Map out how you’ll spend your first 100 days on the job, including who you will meet with and what you need to learn. This includes setting goals and measuring how well you’re meeting them. Having a formal plan can keep you on track.

¹Center for Creative Leadership, Executive Integration: Equipping Transitioning Leaders for Success, 2009.


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