They offered you the job, you signed the offer letter, and now you are patiently waiting for your start date.
Well, believe it or not, your start time begins before you take the job. This pre-start time is the time that you can start to leverage. In fact, you are sending signals even before you walk in the door on Day One. Doing or not doing this can make or break your success. It is that important. And, you will only have this chance once!
Here are some steps that you take as a new incoming Director of Development to leverage that time.
Plan for your new fundraising job BEFORE you even start!
Step #1: Determine the need for change and the readiness for change within the fundraising component of the organization. Begin to conduct an informal assessment from your initial discussions during your interview time. Let’s face it; you probably had more than one interview to get the position and hopefully during those interviews you probably asked the right questions regarding their past and current efforts.
Determine how quickly you need to move to enact change and make progress. Is incremental progress needed to an already established development program? Do you need to start a program up? Or are you needing to turn one around? Answering these key questions will determine how fast you need to act.
Step #2: Identify who the key stakeholders are important to the development program. Stakeholders may be your boss, the Board of Directors, your boss’s assistant, other senior management staff, development staff, clients, customers, direct reports, your executive assistant, donors, volunteers, etc.
Step #3: Clarify what YOUR message is going to be to your key stakeholders. Talk about what needs to change, why it needs to change, share your vision, and how they can help.
Step #4: Begin to develop your key relationships. Some key ones may include your boss, most influential Board members, critical peers, significant donors and volunteers, and direct reports. Send them a message and ask to meet with them BEFORE you start your new position. Yes, BEFORE you start your new job. They should be in-person, but the phone is OK too. These are “listening” conversations but make sure that you provide some structure to them. Ask them what their perceptions are as well as their communication preferences.
Step #5: Manage your personal space and office set-up.
Step #6: Plan your Day One, first 30, 60, 90 and 100 days. The above steps, if taken seriously, can help you begin to plan those first few days. But be sure to plan out your strategy and plan well before entering on Day One.