Aviv has been coding since he was eight years old, so it’s no surprise that he also had an interesting career. He served in the Israeli Army and worked as a software engineer in IBM and some startups.
After leaving full-time employment, Aviv transitioned to an independent consultant, working with startups, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies across Israel, the United States of America, and Europe.
After a few years of helping his clients succeed, he decided to teach them how to succeed, and now focuses on advisory and coaching services for Chief Technical Officers, Vice Presidents of Engineering, Chief Executive Officers, and other engineers. He helps them increase their impact-per-engineer, escape being treated as Jira resolution machines, and explore their potential to the fullest.
In 2020, Aviv published his first book, The Tech Executive Operating System, which has received amazing feedback from tech professionals globally. He also shares regular tips to help tech leaders build high-performing, autonomous teams in his weekly six-minute podcast, called The Tech Exec Podcast.
Aviv finds the impact of his work on people’s lives and companies that are better off, successfully exit, become unicorns, or go public more fulfilling than the joy he derives from coding. He hopes to help more companies become successful through self-materialization.
This article covers our discussion with Aviv extensively. However, if you’d rather watch the live session, here’s the link to the full recording of the live session.
One hundred days may seem like a short period to do much in a new role, but it actually isn’t. The first 100 days are crucial to your successful tech executive tenure, and here are some reasons why:
According to Aviv, “There is always a window of malleability that comes with transitioning to a new role, which is a limited time you can get credit for making changes. People anticipate that things will change when a new sheriff is in town.”
However, this window of malleability is pretty slim—roughly a quarter of a year. After this period, people assume it’s business as usual. If you don’t seize this time to make changes, you’ll have missed your best shot, and it’s often harder to make such changes later.
As a newly appointed executive, your biggest advantage is what Aviv describes as your beginner’s perspective, which is your perception of the company before you become acquainted with its processes, product, people, values, culture, and everything specific to the organization. If you don’t take note of the company’s weak points and idiosyncrasies, you’ll miss out on key insights.
According to Aviv, “Tech leaders are often great at the technical requirements of their role, but struggle with the leadership aspect and end up as glorified managers instead of executives.” You have your first 100 days to avoid falling into this trap.
Hence, it would be best to build rapport with colleagues, learn about the company’s visions or plans, and strategically position yourself to get a seat at the decision-making table within the first 100 days.
Just knowing why the first 100 days matter is not enough to help you avoid getting caught up in the chaos and create impact. You still need to be tactical to not get sucked up in day-to-day operations and create impact instead.
Aviv shared with us his four practical steps you can use to navigate your first 100 days as a tech executive successfully.
Time is the most important asset at your disposal during your first 100 days. It’s easy to lose track of it with so much to do so quickly.
As a tech executive, you’ll generally spend a lot of time interacting with people. In your first 100 days, it’s especially important to spend time getting to know the stakeholders to gain full understanding of the company’s product as well as the business, its customers, and competitors—not to mention the company’s five-year strategic vision.
Aviv recommends alloting an average of two hours daily in the first 100 days to learn about the company and build relationships with people.
There is no hard-and-fast rule, but Aviv recommends talking to the following people:
Talking to your colleagues can be quite a task, since you’re trying to get relevant information from different people, and having these conversations is a great starting point for building a great team instead of a bunch of executives working in silos. Here are two pieces of advice from Aviv to help you navigate these conversations:
Triaging requests and tasks instead of working on them linearly prevents you from getting overwhelmed. You can add requests and tasks to a to-do list using the Notepad, Google Docs, or a sophisticated task management system like ClickUp to organize requests and monitor your commitments, the promises you made, and the promises you received, so that nothing falls through the cracks.
Afterward, take some time to triage what’s on your desk, or in Aviv’s words, clear the fog of war. Next, you need to come up with a plan, which should be delivered within the first two months into your role. Sooner will be premature, and later will miss the window of malleability.
First, you’ll need to quickly put out some fire no matter how unreactive you try to be, so you need to prioritize urgent requests. After you figure out the tasks to be handled right away, find out if you need to execute them personally.
It may turn out that you’re not the right person to handle all requests and will need to delegate to someone else or a different organization. If something isn’t your direct responsibility or doesn’t need to be handled immediately, keep it on your triage list.
Secondly, review all requests in batches. Some may no longer be relevant, in which case you can safely delete them. You may also notice a theme, need more information for some requests, or need to have a follow-up talk with whoever is responsible for such a request.
Your plan does not need to be a complex or detailed document. It could be a single Google Doc page with summarized notes. More importantly, your plan should feature the following:
Within the first three months, you may need to make some personnel changes in your company, which Aviv refers to as chart debugging. For instance, your company may have too many small teams with managerial overhead or large teams with an overworked manager. Should that happen, you’ll need to figure out a hiring plan to fix these issues.
You may also realize that the company has a high attrition ratio and need to figure out the reasons for that high attrition rate, or make plans to hire more people because you realize the others will leave either way.
Making these personnel decisions is usually not an easy task for most tech executives. As Aviv puts it, “Tech decisions are a lot easier, but personnel decisions are tough decisions and tough conversations that need to be handled sensitively.”
Sometimes, organizational problems can only be fixed by restructuring roles within the company, which may be difficult for the staff and executives. It’s advisable to talk to the individuals affected when making such decisions. You can also consult a trusted advisor to help you figure out these personnel decisions.
A major part of your role as a tech executive will be introducing initiatives to help your organization achieve its strategic objectives, and the first 100 days is enough time to start rolling out these initiatives. Hence, it’s advisable to figure out the big initiatives you’d like to introduce in your organization as soon as possible.
These initiatives can range from determining the projects you’ll be leading to moving your team from a featured one to a product-empowered one. How you introduce these initiatives matters just as much as the initiatives themselves.
Therefore, it’s important to present your initiatives to the right people. According to Aviv, “If there’s something tech executives often get wrong, it’s presenting their initiatives to too many people at the same time.”
Presenting your initiatives to relevant heads of departments and tech executives whose activities may be affected by these initiatives is a more effective method. In addition, Aviv also recommends sharing these initiatives with managers and relevant colleagues to get their input.
Similarly, it may be best to announce initiatives in bits depending on the relevance of each initiative at the time. However, some people prefer to roll them all out at once. Whatever the case may be for you, make sure that you leverage your good rapport with colleagues and consider the company’s strengths and weaknesses when introducing these initiatives.
Your first 100 days as a tech executive could be the defining point for the rest of your executive tenure. There will be a lot to do with little or no guidance, and you’ll also have to go fishing for information.
That’s why it’s best to take a breath and navigate the early days’ chaos by maintaining a vision over the horizon and not getting swept up by all the endless meetings that pop up on your calendar. Luckily, the tips we’ve shared here should be enough to serve you as a roadmap for successfully navigating your first 100 days as a tech executive.
Thank you for reading this article. We also recommend you read the following helpful guides and resources for tech leaders on our website:
Subscribe to our Tech Leaders Hub newsletter for more content just like this. Also, if you need to restructure your team by quickly extending its capacity, feel free to check out our team extension services, among many others.
And if there’s anything else we can assist you with, simply reach out to us directly and we’ll get back to you in no time!