One of the Career Labs we offer is about ‘How to Succeed in the First 90 Days of a New Role’. That’s the subject of our next few blog posts.
Starting a new role can be a daunting experience. There is so much to take in and figure out, it may feel like you’re not sure where to begin. If this is you, don’t panic. In this post we will walk you through what you want to focus on as you enter your new role.
Preparing for the First 90 Days
The first three months of any new job is a time of high risk for both you and the organisation. Your employer is going to look for confirmation that you are a good fit for the position and for the organisation. After all, the decision to hire a new employee is based on relatively limited information: how you performed in the interview. Also in some cases, what your references said about you. Your employer is going to be watching to ensure that you can walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
For you, that can feel like a situation where you’re either going to sink or swim with no other option. But how about if it could be something else? How about if you see it as an opportunity to step back, reflect, and explore the exciting prospect of starting a new role.
Ultimately, success isn’t necessarily measured by what’s been achieved in the first 90 days. Success is how you’ve grown and acclimatised yourself since your first day. So that should be your focus.
First three months in a new role
Essentially, those first three months are an extension of the interview process. So, you need to create a positive image right from the start. When starting a new role, preparation is key to setting yourself up for success. Here are some key areas to consider:
- Researching the company or department and role: Before starting a new role, it is important to conduct research about the company, its culture, values, and goals. Understanding the job description and responsibilities of the new role will also be critical in preparing for success.
- Building relationships: Your most important focus is people. Making connections with colleagues and superiors in the new department or organisation can help you establish relationships. It can help you learn about the company culture and expectations, and build your confidence. Take care to gain the trust of your supervisor and your colleagues. Establish positive relationships within your own department and outside of it, and ensure you are able to do your best work.
- Setting realistic goals: As you prepare for your new role, it is important to set achievable goals that align with the company’s objectives. This will help you stay focused and motivated and demonstrate your value to the organisation.
- Strengthening your skills: Are there are specific skills required for the new role that you do not yet possess? If so, it may be a good idea to spend some time strengthening them before you start. This could involve taking courses or seeking mentorship from colleagues who are skilled in those areas.
- Managing your time: Starting a new role can be overwhelming, so it is important to have good time management skills.
Avoid these common failure points.
As you prepare for what to do, let’s also look at what to avoid. Here’s a list of common failure points that Michael Watkins lists in his book “The First 90 Days”.
- Sticking with what you know: Don’t believe you will be successful in your new role by doing the same things you did in your previous role, only more so. Success in the new role requires you to stop doing some things and to embrace new skills.
- Falling prey to the ‘action imperative’: Don’t feel you need to take action. Don’t feel you need to try too hard, too early to put your own stamp on the organization. If you do that, you’ll be too busy to learn. You’re likely to make bad decisions and there will be greater resistance to your initiatives.
- Setting unrealistic expectations: If you don’t negotiate and set clear, achievable objectives there is a risk that you may perform well but still fail to meet the expectations of your boss and other key stakeholders.
- Attempting to do too much: Don’t rush off in all directions, launching multiple initiatives in the hope that some will pay off. People will become confused, and you’ll dilute the resources available to you.
- Coming in with ‘the’ answer’: If you come in with your mind made. If you reach conclusions too quickly about “the” problems and “the” solutions, you’re likely to alienate people who could help you understand what’s going on. And you squander opportunities to develop support for good solutions.
- Engaging in the wrong type of learning: If you spend too much time focused on learning about the technical parts of the business and not enough about the cultural and political dimensions of your new role, you won’t build the cultural insight and relationships you need to understand what is really going on.
- Neglecting horizontal relationships: There is a risk that you spend too much time focused on vertical relationships — up to the boss and down to direct reports — and not enough on peers and other stakeholders. If you do that, you won’t fully understand what it will take to succeed. And you will miss early opportunities to build supportive alliances.
Anxiety is natural
It’s natural to feel a little anxiety when you start a new role. No matter how well you prepare, there will always be things you can’t anticipate. But if you take a moment to think about what’s going to be involved, and how prepared you are for it, you’ll have a far better chance of facing these challenges with confidence. In our next blog post, we’ll share some strategies you can use to navigate the first 90 days in your new role.
Interested in helping your employees succeed in their first 90 days in a new role? Find out more about our Career Lab Series.