Thursday, November 6, 2008

First 100 Days

In the spirit of the election I thought I would talk about the idea of the first 100 days. I started pondering this when I started the position I am at now, about a year and a half ago. The general idea is to have a plan of attack for the first few months of your new position, and that this period will have a significant impact on the rest of your tenure. While this strategy is common for elected officials, it is also common for CEO’s. For these people having a strategic plan in place is often part of the interviewing process.

Theatrically speaking, the 100 days would need to accommodate a reasonable span of time since we often deal in short contracts. A 100 day span in a three month summer stock doesn’t have the same impact. Also, much like in a political framework, the plan is different for returning, than joining the company for the first time.

I think one of the basic things that is interesting regarding the plan is that it signifies what kind of a person you are. Do you come into an organization with an agenda of your own and plow through changes, or do you seek to understand the organization and make small adjustments. If you have a standard operating procedure, and the theatre operates differently, it may be hard to make the two mesh. However, if you change to match every theatre’s environment, how much time is lost in the beginning figuring out the ins and outs. You don’t want to position yourself as an underdog because you are feeling things out and deferring too much. Of course there is a basic question that is unspoken here, and that is whether or not the organization is looking for change. The position that you have will affect the amount of change that is seen. I think it is fairly hard for absolutely no change to occur, unless you have a minor position. The higher up the position the more the individual and theatre must adapt to each other. But some place look to change. I have noticed that there is a trend in theatres that when someone who has been with the theater a very long time leaves, the person filling the position has very large shoes to follow, particularly if they didn’t want that person to leave. On the other hand, if the theater just got rid of someone they didn’t care for, those shoes are easy to fill, and it can be easy to push through your process and look good.

At any rate, I think there are a variety of things to consider when you first start a new job.
The conditions you were hired in – immediate need, or did they wait for the right fit. Are they looking for change? What are current processes? What works and doesn’t work? Who do you have for support, and what is the opposition? Are you in a situation where you can continue the same processes, or are you forced to create your own. Jobs, especially in theater, are full of tasks that just magically get done. Someone has taken over the task, and others may not even realize the necessity to pass the knowledge on since everyone already knows it – except the new person of course.

And here’s a thought for you – when you start a job, all of the info that you gather – will be the same information you need when you pass the torch on. These first few months can let you know the things that should really be in the employee handbook! You won’t have that same perspective ever again – so don’t forget to take a few notes.
Links to a brief article that asks some interesting questions for those first 100 days.

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