small change: your first hundred days


small change 


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

Blog 23 small change: your reactive job search

Blog 24 small change: your proactive job search

Blog 25 small change: your first 100 days

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best


Blog 19  small change: your first 100 days

your first 100 days

Your first 100 days in a new role are special because you:

  • can’t have a second first 100 days in the same role, they are unique days
  • start with hopes and fears; so do “they”
  • hope  that all will be well; so do they
  • fear that you’ve made a mistake; so do they
  • take personal risks and exploit opportunities as the days progress, or not
  • make first impressions in/at
    • your first email
    • meeting
    • follow-up
    • and especially in your first decision

Then they – “the jury” will stay out for variable lengths of time.

I have facilitated scores of First 100 Days Programmes and I have found that on average you will probably encounter your first “Amber” or “Red” relationship in your Relationship Grid by Day 15, latest. Although, on one occasion, a client encountered “a Red” by Day 5 because a decision which was taken before he arrived caused a “risk event” in his first week and was now “his baby”.

So be prepared to encounter a troublesome relationship from, as our American friends say, the “get-go”.

When “the jury comes in” you’re stuck with their decision. It will be hard to shift. So make the best of this so-called “honeymoon period”.

Here are 7 Steps to reduce risks and maximise your opportunities in your first 100 days:

First 100 Days; 7 Steps

  1. Be crystal clear on your purpose,  and “theirs” and the link between the two
  2. Communicate your purpose and the link to theirs in every initial conversation
  3. Say what you intend to deliver in your first 100 days; under-promise/over-deliver
  4. Take this unique and fresh opportunity to “small change” your behaviour
  5. NEVER send a material email/text BEFORE you speak to the recipient
  6. Listen 70% of the time; speak 30%
  7. In your first “amber” or “red” encounter ask someone to help you work through your feelings, your needs in relation to those feelings, and your options on how to handle “the amber or red”. Screw this up at your peril.

You will be judged, and “the jury” will make a decision about  you at the end of your first 100 days on one primary issue:

  • how you dealt with your first amber or red relationship and not on what you delivered. You will receive some leeway for that because of the honeymoon factor.

Your character will be judged on how others felt when you interacted with them

Remember you are judge and jury on them also.

In extremis, you can decide to leave at the end of your first hundred days without too much damage. We all make mistakes. Better to take that tough decision then, when the market will understand. Otherwise, and ideally, you should stay at least two years (in misery) or lose some credibility in the job market.

An even tougher decision is for “them” to accept that they made a mistake in hiring you and ask you to leave before the end of your first hundred days.

I find more often than not that more hiring mistakes are made by hirers than by applicants.

How many people in your organisation do you feel were “poor hires”?


Your answer will be as much a statement about you as about them.


Ciarán Fenton









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