The first hundred days: a successful start at the (first) promotion

Thursday, 25. April 2019

A guest article by Prof. Dr. Roman Stöger

Success or failure is decided primarily at the beginning of a new job: This applies to career starters, a change to another company and promotion to management positions. Interestingly, almost no one is systematically prepared for this.

The first hundred days are particularly crucial in the case of promotion. This step up can either take place in the previous company or as a promoted career changer in another company. In all these cases, experience of starting a career is available, but at least the first promotion is also a first..

Firstly – rethink and relearn

As paradoxical as it sounds, what has led to promotion is usually something different from what is necessary in the new leadership position. What many people notice, especially during their first promotion, is that in the past you only had to be effective, good and strong on your own. Now it's a matter of making a team, a department, an area effective. These are two completely different things.

An example: The best sales employee of a mechanical engineering company is promoted to "Sales Manager". What this person is no longer allowed to do is to devote 100 % of the time to selling. Now salespeople have to be led, budgets have to be worked out and personnel has to be developed. Of course, a sales manager should be a certain amount of time with the customer, but this is no longer in the foreground. Rather it concerns to make as many selling coworkers as possible effective.

As a rule, "promotion" means: new behaviours, new working methods, new tools. After her promotion to head of development, the R&D employee of an automobile manufacturer will no longer have CAD programs as a tool, but will need completely different tools: meeting management, budgeting, project management, etc.

Secondly – getting to know the new management environment

getting to know the new management environmentOne initial mistake is to make big announcements right at the beginning. The first hundred days are days of listening, of getting to know employees, customers, suppliers and, of course, of getting to know the owners and top management even better. Not to be underestimated are the management processes that have now become central tasks, such as target agreements or performance assessment.

Promotion often means moving from colleague to boss. That's why the cooperation and relationship will be different, even if you swear so often that "nothing changes between us". Promotion also means getting a new supervisor. Here, too, it must be clarified how one would like to work together in the future, which strengths are mutually available, how the reporting should look, and so on.

Thirdly – finding the best comrades-in-arms

Results, credibility and trust are a manager's most important assets. Every new boss is monitored: what you do, who you communicate with and who you work with. It must be clear as quickly as possible who the best and strongest people are. Strong people are usually also strong personalities because they have their "own head". They are exactly the people who produce the best results and drive the company forward.

Guaranteed to be the wrong ones are the yes-men, nodders, embellishers and of course the intriguers who are good at one thing: talking badly about others. You should part with all these as quickly as possible because they are a danger to the company, to performance and trust. It also shows whether someone has been promoted because that person can do something – or because someone knows them. The worst mistakes are arrogance and "bossy habits" – they have no effect but cause damage. In most cases this ends after one or two years and every company supervisor is well advised to observe this.

Fourth – develop a leadership program for the area of responsibility

develop a leadership program for the area of responsibilityDuring the first hundred days, a clear assessment of the situation must be carried out and priorities set for the next one to two years. The aim is to identify the challenges and key issues for the area of responsibility and for each individual.

Before the promotion, the personal strengths were at the centre of attention. Now the focus is on the strengths of the area of responsibility as a whole and the strengths of each individual. As the boss, you are a strength developer and that also means having as many employees as possible who are capable of delegation.

After a hundred days, an action and personnel development plan should be available, summarizing the most important topics. Real, great results will not always be available in the first few months, but at least initiatives should already have been taken and something pushed. This is also important because the first hundred days of promotions are usually shorter: Managers in particular are expected to be more effective and "deliver" more quickly.

A personal development plan for the first time

An interesting phenomenon of our society is that there is no education for the really important life topics: a functioning partnership, a functioning family, a functioning retirement, a functioning working life, a functioning working methodology. Courses, certificates, exams are required for all kinds of things, for many really decisive topics you are on your own. This applies in particular to career entry and promotions.

Success or failure is decided primarily in the first hundred days. These are not difficult topics in themselves, but one should systematically prepare oneself for them and draw up a development plan for oneself on the basis of the topics mentioned. Then the first hundred days will not only be exciting, but will also lay the foundation for effectiveness and trust.


Malik, F. (2014): Führen Leisten Leben, Frankfurt.
Stöger, R. (2016): Die Toolbox für Manager, Stuttgart.

Credits (from top):
© | Yuri Arcurs
© | DenisIsmagilov
© Prof. Dr. Roman Stöger

About the Author

Prof. Dr. Roman StögerProf. Dr. Roman Stöger is professor for Strategic Management at University of Applied Science FH Kufstein, Austria. He is engaged in consulting and development projects over twenty years and member of supervisory boards in international companies. Roman Stöger has published books and articles on strategy, digitalization, innovation, organization, productivity and management. You can reach him via e-mail at