We don’t expect an athlete to perform without completing a pre-season training programme, but you, as a newly-promoted executive, will be under the spotlight from the second you get your swipe card.
Football managers are always appointed after someone has been given the boot. The results aren’t good enough – or the style in some instances, here’s looking at you Chelsea and Real Madrid. The stakeholders – club ownership and fans – want to get back on track immediately.
Thrown into the deep end the manager does what’s necessary to win. He doesn’t have time to look at everything under the hood – that can come later. After a few quick wins the manager is feted as a messiah by the press and fanbase. If he has a squad and an elite approach there’s every chance that he can salvage the situation and be successful in the medium to long term. Most football managers though aren’t elite and after a few quick wins the squad defaults to their norm as deeper behavioural and structural issues surface.
If you’re just in the door you too could be filling the shoes of a misfortunate someone else. You won’t be subject to the wrath of the baying hordes in the Kop or Stretford End if you mess up on the first day, but you will be expected to deliver something while you transition. Here’s how:
Prepare a number of briefing messages that will let you main audience know who you are, what your backgrounds is along with your approach and philosophy. Just give them enough to keep them off your back for now, so that you can learn about the organisation and your own territory in particular. A new football manager isn’t going to tell half his squad that they are going to be out the door come the summer transfer window, as he needs them to do the business for him right now. You too will need to keep your powder dry with regard to any big personnel changes until you’ve settled in and earned some trust.
Identify Suitable Issues to Work On
Pick a handful of issues – no more than three to four – that you can address quickly while you are still settling in. You may be able to resolve a long-standing issue that your predecessor couldn’t – in some cases this could happen simply by the virtue of not being them! You are best off focusing on issues that feed into the longer term goals that you have agreed with your boss and other stakeholders. These will give you a solid base in order to build momentum as you move through your transition period.
Follow the four steps below. Once they’re done give your crew a break as you don’t want your transition period to be one endless improvement programme. You’ll exhaust your people and make plenty of enemies.
- Listen and Learn: Don’t use a “here’s one I made earlier” solution from another context. Step back and take in the world around you, as what’s normal and workable in one environment may not fly in your new one.
- Design: Using what you’ve learned so far along with the relationships you’ve built you can co-design a solution, keeping the key stakeholders informed.
- Implement: Once you’re happy with the design and have tested it you can flick the switch and watch how it performs in a live environment.
- Assimilate: Once the results are in and you are happy with them show the value of what you and your people have accomplished and learned.