Why the week before a new job starts is crucial for its long-term success

I have a week left to prepare before I start in my new CEO job, what’s the best way for me to prepare?

Many times have I faced extremely bright people, with a new appointment already in their hands, and such a question in their mind.


“I have been chosen, the Annual General Meeting will appoint me to the Board a week from now, I will be appointed Chief Executive, what’s the best way for me to use this week in order to hit the ground running?”.

Integrating in a new role happens as much before we start in the new position as it happens after we’ve started.

The answer to that question is then “Use that week you have in order to accelerate your integration as much as you can”.

These are the things I would do the week before my new job starts:

  • Prepare your analysis of the situation: think of how you see your new job. Prepare a thirty seconds description of your plan, what an investor would call your “equity story”. Clearly define the pillars of your strategy in simple and effective terms. “When I start as CEO, we will focus on … Our strategy will be based on… Make sure your message is viable, clear, simple and effective. Communicate it thoroughly, repeatedly, simply. Do this alone, in a time of relax and with your mind empty and free, but then discuss it with a couple of people you trust the most, who will act as your mirror;
  • Map your key stakeholders: ask yourself this question:

    Who are the people that have a clear say in determining whether I am successful in the new role?

    Part of them will be shareholders, part of them will be team members, part of them will be peers in and outside the company. List them, up to around twenty of them. Map them carefully, thoroughly and prioritise them. I often recommend a very simple spreadsheet, listing all of them by name, role, with one line of comments and “next actions” just next to their name. Most importantly, I recommend one column with a priority number next to each of them. This is a very simple tool which will help you keep your list fresh, change it, re-prioritise it, always making sure that you can add new stakeholders, remove some old ones and manage their expectations effectively and timely. You will dialogue with key stakeholders a lot more effectively if you do so. As you dialogue with them, you will realise that you strongly contribute to influencing and defining the very same criteria they will use to define your own success. This will lay a much more solid foundation for your long term future in the role.

It is difficult to overemphasise how many great people have failed as Chief Executives (and even more so in different roles) for lack of thorough identification and understanding of key stakeholders at the onset of their adventure in the role.

In doing the above, get some help from advisors you trust. You need a mirror that helps you focus on both. As you do the above, you will realise that a number of simple actions and decisions come to the surface of your thinking. This is what we call “Day One Decisions“. The few key decisions that will help you “hit the ground running”, and do so effectively, rapidly and securely.

These few days before we start, if we spend them well, will be a key foundation for long term success in the role. Be it a Chief Executive role, as well as any executive role, or, even, a Non Executive Director position. Working on accelerating integration in the role is key to succeed in the end.

As someone said, we only have one occasion to make a good first impression.




Tommaso Arenare



This post was also published on LinkedIn.