Having a well-considered transition plan written before day one can have a significant impact on the success of your transition. Ideally you should sense check your plan with people inside and outside of your organization. The common blind spot I see in many transition plans is the absence of a section on learning. They are often very action orientated, ‘I will do this and I will do that’ and what they often miss is the outline of the gaps in knowledge and how they will be addressed e.g. ‘I need to understand the history around the major contracts, and I will do X, Y & Z to plug that within this time frame’.
Your transition plan needs to be a little fluid due to the fact that pre your start date you exist in the unconscious incompetent stage (you don’t know what you don’t know) and as the military saying goes, ‘no plan survives the first contact with the enemy’.
The use of a transition plans gives leaders’ structure, task direction, prioritization and clear deliverables during their transition. This increases the level of confidence in themselves and as a result the level of confidence the organization has in the leader. In my study leaders who were externally recruited were twice as likely to use a transition plan than internally promoted ones. Internally promoted leaders often have a series of ongoing objectives to mesh with their new role, in comparison to an externally recruited leader who is starting fresh in terms of tasks and projects. They can often miss the opportunity to take the time to pause and set a specific transition plan in the same way that leaders new to the organization might.
Linked to many transition plans is the concept of early or quick wins that leaders can identify and deliver during the transition period. Again in my study, many of leaders sought and completed actions that they considered as early wins, which in their perspective contributed to their transition success. The quick wins mentioned by the participants all had two common criteria: (1) the leader felt confident that they had enough information about the action or decision and (2) that they had the authority to act.
Whilst the rule of thumb is to only take ‘corrective action’ (fixing things that are very broken or on fire) early in your transition when you lack the full context, setting yourself up for some early actions that speak to the theme of your transition can be helpful