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Entries in Critical Success Factors (2)


Steps To Surviving the First 100 Days In Your New, Non-Clinical Career

The biggest question from physicians in the process of transition to their first non-clinical role? How can I best prepare?

From my last post on docs moving on to the corporate world, we know that leaving clinical practice and making your way within the business environment has a unique, and sometimes steep, learning curve. This curve, made up of both the new career training, as well as the unspoken expectations for business skills and acumen, has been a stumbling point for many a physician who is venturing into the non-clinical world for the first time.

The importance is on being prepared for the learning curve, and doing what you need to do ahead of time, as well as during the first few weeks of your transition, to ensure that those critical first few months position you for success as you continue on your new career path.

So how do you do that? What are the steps you can take to make sure that you have the most successful “First 100 Days” on your new job as possible?

Here are some ideas:

Step 1: Get Ready - Optimize the Period on to Your Transition

One of the most important things to recognize is that your first day on a new job better not be “day one” where you’re getting up to speed on the company and your new role. It is critical that you’ve spent time preparing yourself for the transition prior to the actual change, so that when you do arrive on the job you are ready to hit the ground running and make your initial days a value-added time for all involved. It is critical that you’ve thought of, and planned for, all of the elements that will start you off in the best way possible. These should include:

  • Doing your “homework” on the company, the industry, the competitors, financials, etc.
  •  Meeting with initial management, employees, alumni, customers, etc. to lay the groundwork for strong relationships and to gather valuable input up-front
  • Preparing your family or personal support base for the intense time (and hours) ahead, in order to minimize personal disruptions and allow you to immerse yourself in your new role for the first months
  • Assessing your own knowledge, skill or experience gaps, to determine what functional expertise or specialized training you will need to succeed in your new job – particularly where it comes to the “unspoken expectations” of business skill / acumen that are a given in the non-clinical world 

Step 2: Starting Off Right

When starting a new position within a new environment, you have a unique “window of opportunity” to establish yourself and to mold peoples’ expectations of you as well as your own foundation for the work ahead. You want to ensure that you are as successful as possible as you begin this new professional phase. During those early days it is critical to establish yourself as a learner, an active listener, and someone who is prepared and organized as they enter into this new space. Things to consider as you make your way:

  • How you introduce yourself – to colleagues, team members, clients – and how you set expectations of yourself, your working style, your ability to partner
  • Spending time to learn about, understand and shape your team
  • Crafting your own “personal strategic plan” for the first three months, including your goals, milestones and your desired outcomes (see resources below)
  • Spending time to understand your new company’s culture, and your place in it
  • Establishing a productive relationship with your colleagues and boss
  • Making sure you listen more than talk, and using effective communication as questions / issues arise

Step 3: Thriving in Your New Role

Once you’ve gotten yourself well-entrenched in your new position and are feeling comfortable that the initial learning curve is behind you, you will still need to make sure you are mastering the critical success factors that drive non-clinical environments. Pay attention to how well you are:

  • Avoiding Common “New Team Member” Pitfalls - things such as talking more than listening, trying to impress by having all the answers (often before getting all the facts), stubbornly relying on what has made you successful in the past, setting unrealistic expectations of yourself, etc.
  • Being an Effective Team Player - e.g., knowing how/when to defer to others, knowing how/when to delegate, taking leadership when appropriate, being accountable, sharing credit, knowing how to utilize complimentary skills for a common goal / outcome, etc.
  • Knowing What To Do When You Don’t Have the Answer - not an easy one for physicians who are used to being required to have the answer! - this includes, avoiding the temptation to think you must have immediate answers and/or over-promising on things you may not be able to deliver, knowing how to create a process for reviewing the issue and inviting others to participate in getting the answer
  • Running Effective and Impactful Meetings - things as simple as crafting an effective agenda, keeping discussion on-track, guiding and tracking feedback, and starting and ending the meeting on time
  • Staying Accountable - knowing how to take criticism without deflecting blame, "owning" your work and any dependencies that others may have on it, delivering things on-time or appropriately escalating issues that impede progress
  • Being an Expert Facilitator and Presenter - knowing how to engage your audience and deliver impactful presentations, being able to communicate complex clinical data and information in a way that your audience understands, being able to facilitate other peoples' process to a common end
  • Delegating and Trusting Your Colleagues - being a true team player not only in words but in action, trusting others' follow-through, having a highly honed sense of collegiality
  • Being a Highly Effective Communicator - having strong interpersonal skills, being able to mediate conflict, being clear and unambiguous in your words, being highly effective in both written (i.e., email) and spoken communication

A couple of great resources for you to consider:

“The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels”  (2003)  by Michael Watkins (thanks to Dr. Arlen Meyers for the reference)

“You’re in Charge - Now What?: The 8 Point Plan”  (2007)  by Thomas J. Jeff & James M. Citrin


Leaving Your Clinical Position for the Corporate World...

So you've done it. You're leaving your clinical post to enter the corporate world.

You’ve gone through the career transition phases - from dreaming about the possibilities of a different work-life, to doing your research, networking, making plans, taking action, and finally landing the new job that you’ve been hoping and planning for. You’re thrilled (but nervous), your family is supportive, and your colleagues (the ones you care about) are happy for you and perhaps even a little jealous. Congratulations! It’s onward and upward from here.

Now that you’ve got your start-date nailed down and are taking whatever actions you need to do to wrap things up at your current position, you are ready to go, right? Ready to make that change happen and start your “new professional life”, with all of its opportunities and open doors…. Correct? I hope so!

But for many physicians who have made the move from the clinical into the corporate world, there is a learning curve that they are not expecting, one that can – if they are not quite prepared for it - side-swipe them when they least expect it.

This “learning curve” is a combination of new career orientation – things you would expect you need to know, such as:

  • How the industry and your specific company works
  • Expectations for your role
  • Specific training on methodologies, tools, processes

But it also includes more unspoken expectations, things which have tripped up many a physician who jump into a corporate role without fully understanding the critical success factors – and how they measure up to these - for anyone in the corporate world. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The fact that they, the physician, are now measured on – and only as successful as - how much value they bring to the organization on a daily basis – i.e., in things such as added revenue or decreased costs
  • That they will be expected to act in a team capacity and to demonstrate highly effective skills in leadership, accountability and communication
  • That they are well-skilled in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships with people at all levels of the organization, and have a highly honed level of professionalism
  • That they have the basic proficiencies expected within a corporate environment – including technical (e.g., MS Office – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, MS Project, Email, etc.), project / time management, effective presentations/speaking, people management / mentoring, teaming, etc.

Often it is these pieces of the puzzle which can “make or break” a physician’s venture into a new career path and the success of their new position. At minimum these unspoken expectations – and the physician's ability (or inability) to tackle them - can cause high levels of stress during the transition, and make the learning curve steeper and longer than it needs to be.  At worst it can derail an individual's ability to be successful and/or their longevity within the new organization.

Being prepared for this learning curve – both the new career orientation and unspoken expectations – is literally your first transition task. And it should happen long before you enter the door of your new company on day one. With any job or career change you want to hit the ground running, and set yourself up for success from the beginning

So how do you do that? What are the steps you can take to make sure that you have the most successful “First 100 Days” on your new job as possible?

Next time I'll bring you some tips and strategies for making this critical time a personal and professional success... stay tuned.

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