10 Steps To Your First 90 Days At A New Job

April 14, 2010

There is the standard stuff when you start a new job; like finding your desk, getting your laptop, and a phone.  Of course, you have to fill out the paperwork, learn how to enter your time sheet and expense report and all that.  But now comes the scary part, what do you "DO?"  What you do next is going to set you up for success or failure at your new job.  I have been putting some thought into this recently and I think I have a decent plan in place.  Please tell me what you think…

10 Steps To Your First 90 Days At A New Job

  1. Start learning during the interview process. Why are they hiring this position? What happened before? What will it take to succeed? What are the expectations for the person coming into this position?  Can you talk to a friend that is also a customer?  How about researching the competition?  You don't have the pressures of the job yet, now is the time to get up to speed as much as you can on your own.
  2. Once in place continue to ask a lot of questions.  "Why" should be your favorite word. Ask why.  And why again. Talk to everyone, both in the group and outside. Have an open mind and listen.  Look for trends from multiple people.  Don’t assume anything, feel free to ask "what the ROI is" or "why something is so complex." I know it sounds crazy, but I have found business as usual does not always get the scrutiny a new project would get.  I have asked in the past and have been told "That is a good question and we should know the answer, but we don't right now."
  3. Make sure you listen to those who don't agree with you.  Do you truly understand what they are trying to say? If you don't find anyone that disagrees with you, A) you haven't found the right people or B) people don't feel safe telling you the truth. 
  4. Once you have identified the issues start prioritizing, you can't change everything all at once. And make sure you have some quick wins on your list.  Nothing succeeds like success…
  5. Understand that change is scary to some (most?) people and YOU are an unknown.  You are the new guy.
  6. Be open to other's ideas and suggestions. Be flexible.  Use an inclusive decision style.  
  7. Do you have the right Lieutenants in place? Are you getting the right guidance and feedback? Are they up to the task? Success is so much easier when you have brilliant, hard working people around you. It is much easier to share the limelight with a great team, than to get there all alone.  Don’t forget about a good mentor.  Who is helping to guide you through the history and politics?
  8. Don't get caught up in busy nonproductive work.  Attending meetings and answering email may feel productive (and is so satisfying to check off your list), but is it really the best use of your time?  Not only do you need a to-do list, maybe you need a don't-do list too…
  9. Move quickly, this is your honeymoon, you probably won't be giving this chance again.
  10. Communicate, communicate, communicate, both up and down the chain.  It is better to over communicate at this point (actually, most of the time).  You have multiple channels to get your message out, use them all; not just email and impersonal meetings. And make sure your audience understands your message. Your presentation to the board probably won't look like your presentation at the all hands meeting.

Do you agree with my list?  What do I need to change? What have I forgotten?  Is anything on the list that shouldn’t be?  Come on help me out!  I am hoping to be in my first 90 days on a new job soon.  How can I get up to speed quickly and start making an impact?

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