New Job with a Heavy Agenda? Ask Madeleine

Hi Madeleine,

I work in the health profession and I’ve just accepted a position in management at a new facility. I don’t know the staff at all. All I know is that the senior leadership wants a change in the management at the facility.

What advice would you have on how to tackle a new job at a new place with a heavy agenda? What should I do first???

 New Healthcare Leader

Dear New Healthcare Leader,

Well, congratulations! Isn’t this exciting? It sounds like you have a great opportunity here! I can’t tell from your letter if the facility is new overall, or if it is just new to you. If it is actually new, this could be good because you won’t have the burden of history—it can be hard to make changes when it’s “always been done that way.”

If it is just new to you, you will need to spend some time asking questions and listening to understand the culture of the organization. Working with people to change things begins with understanding and meeting them where they are.

In terms of change, you will want to press senior leadership to understand what exactly the prior management did wrong, so you don’t repeat those mistakes. If they won’t tell you, it was probably something illegal, immoral, or both. I imagine this won’t be a problem for you.

What they must tell you though is what a good job looks like. This answers the question, “How will you know you are successful?” You say “heavy agenda” but you have to make sure you know what it really is. Ask them for crystal-clear goals, and if they don’t provide them, come up with your own and present them for approval. Some senior leaders simply don’t have the skills or the patience to articulate the vision or the goals of the organization, so if they won’t do it, do it for yourself.

Once you have your goals set, work with your people to get their goals super clear. Also, spend as much time as you can getting to know your people and assessing their strengths. Work with each of them to ensure that their goals leverage their skills, interests, and talents.

Once everybody knows what they are supposed to be doing, make sure they are getting the proper direction and support they need to do it. Make sure everyone, including you, has a short-term goal that they can achieve so that you all have the experience of early success together. Share stories of any and all wins. People will remember stories and it will feel good.

Finally, we have a lot of books here at The Ken Blanchard Companies, but the definitive one on this topic is not by Ken or any of us. It is The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins and I have worked through the book with many clients. Google it, read summaries, and be sure to look at the templates of what to do in your first 30, 60, and 90 days. I highly recommend it.

Best of luck in your new role!

Love, Madeleine

About the author


Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.

Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!

Leave a Reply