THE FIRST 90 DAYS
It’s always interesting working with people who’ve just started a new job. Whether they’re my own employees or people that I’ve placed into a new role elsewhere, that first 90 days really does determine whether they’re going to succeed or not. Furthermore, I think it sets an important tone for how they’ll perform in an ongoing basis.
In other words, the first 90 days really counts! Here are some ideas about how you might be able to make the most of that time.
1. HAVE A PLAN
This was drilled into me early on in my career and I’m a big believer of it. I think it’s critical for every new employee, from the CEO down, to have a 90 day plan from the day they start. Your plan should be like a brief business plan. What’s the goal, what are the objectives to get there and when do they need to be achieved by? This one simple process will go a long way to keeping you focused when the pressures of learning a new role are doing their best to distract you.
2. DEFINE SUCCESS
If you haven’t covered this fully as part of the interview process then you really need to very quickly understand exactly what success looks like! You need to understand the strategy, goals and expectations of the company and your boss. Then you need to make sure that your strategy, goals and expectations support that. In essence this means getting your boss to sign-off on your 90 day plan.
3. BRING ENERGY
The energy you bring is very important in getting off to a good start. If you’re very introverted you might have to fake confidence to start with but things like taking the initiative to introduce yourself to your colleagues (rather than waiting to be introduced) can make a huge difference in how quickly you settle in. The simple things like a smile, eye contact, firm handshake and positivity go a long way.
4. SEEK TO UNDERSTAND BEFORE BEING UNDERSTOOD
One of the best people I’ve worked with was a guy who was brilliant at networking within the organisation. In his first 90 days he met with as many people as he could to understand exactly what worked, what didn’t work and why. He asked what people thought was missing from the role he was hired to do and what they would do differently if they were in his position. He found out about their role and how he could assist them. He built such great relationships based on his understanding of the business in the first 90 days that when it came time to implement changes people listened because he’d built credibility. People felt he understood them.
5. BE SYSTEMATIC
There’s so much to learn in a new role that it can be quite overwhelming. As my old manager used to say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…” The fact is you’re not going to learn it all in your first week so part of your 90 day plan should be systematically ticking off each new aspect of your role you need to learn… in bite size chunks rather than all at once. Step one here might be sitting down with your boss and mapping out everything you’re expected to know… and this should go into your 90 day plan.
6. BE PROACTIVE
The best way to make a good impression in your first 90 days is to be proactive rather than reactive. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to tell you what to do, go in search of what you think you should be doing. Any manager worth their salt would prefer you to create action, even if it’s not really what you’re meant to be doing, than to sit back and wait for them to have time in their busy day to attend to you. It’s also much easier for a manager to correct than to create, so if you’re really not sure what you’re doing put together a plan of attack and ask your manager to review it with you. They’ll love you for it!
Tip: If you’re being micro managed then chances are that’s because you’re not managing up effectively. Instead of waiting for your boss to tell you what to do, get in first and tell them what you’re planning to do! Give them an update at the end of the day. Do this until your boss is comfortable you know what you’re doing.
7. THINK BEFORE YOU ASK
We all do it… we’re new, we’re not sure what to do so we don’t try and figure it out, we just ask a question without thinking about it. The problem is that the learning process is sometimes about figuring it out! And perhaps more importantly when you’re first starting in a new job it’s not nice for your manager to get hundreds of simple questions all day long that you could have figured out yourself. That’s not to say you should spend a ridiculous amount of time struggling with something just for the sake of the learning experience or just so you don’t interrupt your boss, but you should think before asking the question. What are you options? Which is your best guess about the right option? Now you can ask a question that shows you’ve thought about it first.
8. BE HUMBLE
Don’t assume that what made you successful in your old job will continue to do so. Assume you know absolutely nothing, ask for advice, actively listen.
9. GET SOME EARLY WINS
How can you create value and improve the business in your first 90 days? These will likely be small wins, rather than revolutionary changes. You really want to seek to understand before being understood so it's not a good idea to charge in swinging. Instead, look for the little wins that will help you build credibility and momentum.
10. MIRROR THE BEST
Who are the best performers in your role within the company? You need to get to know these people. Ask them for a coffee, pick their brains, figure out how they think, how they approach things. Copy them. If you can’t find these people inside the company, look outside the company.
Reference: The First 90 Days – Michael Watkins