First Days

Getting a new job is an exciting time. There is something special about jumping through all those interview hoops and landing an offer. Setting yourself up for success depends a lot on how your first 90 days goes. These critical weeks set the foundation for your tenure. Here are our top tips for making sure your first 90 days are a success.


The research, thinking and planning you do before you start your new job will make the transition much easier. This is what we suggest you do:

  • Learn as much as you can about your new company before you walk in the door. This includes who they compete against.
  • Prepare a rough plan for your first 90 days. There will be a lot to do and learn so this will help focus you.
  • Ask for as much material as you can before you start. Reading up on internal company policies, procedures will make your first week a lot easier.
  • Give yourself at least a week between jobs. Use this as preparation and ‘recharging’ time. Don’t just jump into a new job right after leaving your last.
  • Do some work. Spend a little time each day in the week before your new job doing something that will benefit your new company. This might be writing thought leadership in your area of expertise or a description of the skills and experience you can take to your new clients.


Your First Day

If you know in advance that your boss won’t be present at your arrival, ask her/him whom you should talk to or what you should do at your arrival. Check with her/him if there would be an announcement sent around the office, advising co-workers of your position and arrival day/time, and state your view of how much you think it would be important to do that.


Your First Week

Resist the urge to dive right in and start to contribute in the first week. The reason for this is simple – you really don’t understand who or how things get done at your new job. Jumping right in without that understanding may create enemies. Instead create a plan to achieve the following in the first week to understand how your new company works.

  • What does the organisation structure look like, what projects are on the go, who are the key people to get to know.
  • Schedule a one-on-one with your boss and peers. Understand their projects and plans and how you can fit in or contribute.
  • Get to know your team and other co-workers. The quicker you bond with your co-workers, the more comfortable you will feel.
  • Read as much as you can about what is going on within the company.
  • Attend more meetings than you should. This will teach you the dynamics of the company and who says and does what.
  • Find a trusted mentor. In some companies this role is formalised but if it isn’t in your new company ask for one. This person should know how to get things done.


The Following Weeks

Don’t challenge right away. Showing up to your new gig and immediately bashing long established norms will backfire. This is true even if everyone hates the policy or procedure. Go slow and build your reputation up first before challenging company norms.

Know what’s important. Your first 90 days will be filled with lots of tasks to do. Make sure you fully understand the priorities of those tasks and what your boss expects. Confirm these priorities often so that you are always working on the right thing.

Early Wins. Your first 90 days sets the foundation for your tenure. Do your best to accomplish something meaningful as soon as you can. Agree on this with your boss.


Leadership Roles

For leadership roles we strongly recommend you read ‘The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels’, written by Michael Watkins. You can find it on Amazon for about £14. The table of contents is as follows:

  • Introduction: The First 90 Days

Why transitions are critical times. How new leaders take charge more effectively. Fundamental principles for successful transitions. The organizational benefits of a common framework for accelerating everyone.

  • Chapter 1. Promote yourself

Why people fail to make the mental break from their old job. Preparing to take charge in a new role. Assessing vulnerabilities. Laying the groundwork for success.

  • Chapter 2. Accelerate your learning

Learning as an investment process. Planning to learn. Figuring out the best sources of insight. Using structured methods to accelerate learning.

  • Chapter 3. Match strategy to situation

The dangers of “one best way” thinking. Diagnosing the situation to develop the right strategy. The STARS model of types of transitions. Using the model to analyse portfolios, reward success, and develop leaders.

  • Chapter 4. Secure early wins

Avoiding common traps. Figuring out A-item priorities. Creating a compelling vision. Building personal credibility. Getting starting on improving organizational performance. Plan-then-implement change vs. collective learning.

  • Chapter 5. Negotiate success

Building a productive working relationship with a new boss. The five-conversations framework. Defining expectations. Agreeing on a diagnosis of the situation. Figuring out how to work together. Negotiating for resources. Putting together your 90-day plan.

  • Chapter 6. Achieve alignmentBPO Recruit

The role of the leader as organizational architect. Identifying the root causes of poor performance. Aligning strategy, structure, systems, and skills.

  • Chapter 7. Build your team

Inheriting a team and changing it. Managing the tension between short-term and long-term goals. Working team restructuring and organizational architecture issues in parallel. Putting in place new team processes.

  • Chapter 8. Create coalitions

The trap of thinking that authority is enough. Identifying whose support is critical. Mapping networks of influence and patterns of deference. Altering perceptions of interests and alternatives.

  • Chapter 9. Keep your balance

How leaders get caught in vicious cycles. The three pillars of self-efficacy. Creating and enforcing personal disciplines. Building advice and counsel networks.

  • Chapter 10. Expedite everyone

Why so few companies focus on transition acceleration. The opportunity to institutionalize a common framework. Using the framework to accelerate team development, develop high potential leaders, integrate acquisitions, and strengthen succession planning.

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