5 Things To Make Your First Day In The Big Chair Easier

Author Sean Fletcher

CEO’s Office at the Shire of Morawa


Each time I have assumed the role of CEO, senior manager or team leader, there are five things I do regarding the first day:

  • Do my homework;
  • Undertake the induction;
  • Arrange an orientation and meet informally with key staff;
  • Develop an action plan; and
  • Review some of the key issues.

Similarly, you can use each of these items regarding your very first day in the big chair. In greater detail, the checklist becomes:

Do Your Homework 

As simple as this may seem, establish whether:

  • A startup pack has been prepared and which documents are required to be completed on your commencement;
  • An induction and/or handover will be conducted. If possible, undertake a handover prior to commencement as this will mean you can hit the ground running. Also this may include attending a key meeting e.g. Board meeting, Council meeting, Senior Team meeting;
  • You should find out more about the organisation, department, branch or team you are now responsible for. This may include strategic/business plans, policies/procedures and guidelines.

Undertake The Induction

Inductions vary from organisation to organisation. Some consist of tick the box and so take no more than one or two hours. Others may be spread over a number of days in the first week.  Hopefully, your induction has been arranged with an appropriate staff member. Also, make sure you have your startup pack with you which should include an induction manual with the following key policies, procedures and forms:

  • Building authority access;
  • Logging on – how, and passwords;
  • Emails – how they are managed;
  • Correspondence – how incoming correspondence is distributed;
  • Records management – what system is used;
  • Financial authority – corporate card, travel card, bank authorisation form, dongle;
  • Key contacts list – internal and external;
  • Electronic devices – will you be provided with a laptop, tablet, mobile phone, other;
  • Vehicle – keys, parking bays, tax requirements, changeover policy;
  • Medical – when and with who. Is it paid for by the organisation;
  • Payroll startup forms: personal details, tax details;
  • Human Resources policies;
  • Occupational Safety & Health policies & requirements;
  • IT management policy;
  • Governance Plan.

Finally, establish who provides support for: governance, administration, finance, records and information technology.

Arrange An Orientation And Meet Informally With Key Staff

Before you become trapped in the office, spend one or two hours getting out and about in the organisation.  Make sure you arrange with your personal assistant a visit to the other areas of the organisation over the next one to three months.

Who are the key people you need to meet and discuss where things are at? The aim is to develop a quick and early repore. Allow two hours for this activity.

Develop An Action Plan

Despite the distractions regarding turning up on the first day, develop a plan of the key things you need to address. If possible set up a matrix (table) of actions. Alternatively, this can be a to do list to start with. My action plan looks like this:

 Allow no more than two hours to set up your plan. Then update every one to two days as you go.

Review Key Issues

From your briefing notes or action plan review one, two or three key items. Allow between two – four hours. This will give you great peace of mind.

Final Word

The first day will go quickly enough, but if you want to set the tone for how you will get things done, follow the above five points.

Till Next Time…

In the meantime, if you have any comments you would like to share regarding getting underway in the big chair, please comment below 📥


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