Rebecca Paddock needed a way to prepare for her move from a test engineer job to a systems engineer position. So, inspired by the 100-day plans US presidents historically use when they first take office, she developed a list of tasks to tackle.
"I used it as a preparation process for the interviews, and when I got the job, I had a framework in place," says Paddock, who now works as a program manager and director of Six Sigma at Raytheon.
US presidents aren't the only leaders who plan for their first few months on the job. Most corporate executives, including CIOs, use 90- or 100-day plans, too.
But Paddock knows that these road maps for successful transitions shouldn't be exclusive to the C-suite.
"The more you can have a vision of how you're going to get from Point A to Point B, and to know what Point B is, the more successful you're going to be, even at a junior level," says Matt Hartzman, vice president of IS at the College of American Pathologists.
So for anyone getting ready to start a new position at any level in IT, here are five action items to use as a guide for your own 100-day plan:
1. Assess the situation
Companies want new talent to bring something to the table. If IT is running smoothly, they want you to help move the organization forward. If something's wrong, they want you to help fix it.
It's best to determine the organization's needs early on, says Sue Leboza, group vice president of IT for the pharmaceutical products group at Abbott Laboratories, a health care company. "If you don't ask or don't know, you could be working on the wrong things for your first 100 days," Leboza says.
Consult with your peers, your team members, your supervisors and any other stakeholders to help you develop the most complete assessment.
2. Determine expectations
You need to know how your boss defines success for your position. But to find out, you need to both ask and observe, says Michael D. Watkins, co-founder of Genesis Advisers, a leadership development company, and author of the The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels (Harvard Business School Press, 2003).