If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve landed a new job. Congratulations! The thought of starting in a new role can feel overwhelming as there are many things to consider if you want to make a great first impression.

Your colleagues and your boss will form opinions about you based on limited information and those opinions can be sticky. So here’s how to leverage those first 90 days and set a precedent that puts you in good stead for the rest of your tenure at that company.

Research by the Institute for Management Development shows that leaders who proactively plan their transition into a new role reach the ‘break-even’ point – that is the point at which they really start to add value – in 40 percent less time than those who do not. Below, we outline some helpful tips you can start implementing from Day 1 to set you up for success.

First of all, what will your line manager be looking out for? After all, they’re likely the person who made the hiring decision so will be rooting for you. The questions they’ll be asking are:

  • are you able to maintain the performance you delivered in the interview?
  • are you able to deliver on the claims you made?
  • how quickly can you get up and running and start contributing?
  • will you slot in with the current structures and teams?

Keep these questions front-of-mind throughout the first 90 days and check in regularly with yourself to ascertain whether you’re able to positively answer these questions.

 

The 90-day plan

The biggest mistake you can make is to believe you are working for somebody else.”

  • Earl Nightingale, speaker and author

First and foremost, it’s key to remember that this is YOUR job: you should be in the driving seat of your own learning experience in order to get what you need from the role.

Before you start, it helps to be clear on the objective of each of the three months. As a general rule, they can be broken down as such:

  • Month 1: absorbing, listening, learning
  • Month 2: implementing, testing
  • Month 3: delivering, producing tangible results, adding value

First impressions

Prepare your opening lines ahead of starting so you have a ‘script’ at the ready when you encounter a new face. Do your best to remember names. It helps by saying the person’s name back to them and writing down a quick note about them when you part.

As you’re introducing yourself, take note of how the other person is reacting. If they seem distracted, keep it short.

 

Identify key alliances

When starting in a new role, many of us make the mistake of focusing solely on the technical side of the business and not enough on the organisational culture and politics.

It’s useful to identify the powerful players in the organisation, understand what they care about and gain their support. Ask your boss, “Who is it critical that I get to know?” You should also aim to forge ‘horizontal’ alliances with colleagues from different departments and levels of seniority as you want to have support at all levels.

Consciously observe the office culture, try to listen before you speak and remember that at this stage, every interaction you have with a colleague is an opportunity to network so be courteous and take time to thank people who are showing you the ropes.

Ask questions that allow you to learn about your colleagues’ roles, responsibilities, business priorities and challenges to build a ‘mental map’ of the organisation while you establish relationships and better understand how you can be a good partner to your colleagues.

 

Quick wins for your first week

Getting in some early wins is a great way to build a sense of momentum around your arrival. Start by asking your boss what his or her biggest pain points are and look at ways you might be able to add value and help with that problem in the form of small changes that are highly visible within the organisation.

If you offer your help to someone, make sure you deliver what you said you would on time. That builds trust.

You and your manager should take time to clarify your mutual expectations during your first couple of weeks. This includes understanding how you will work together, how you will get the resources you need to do your job well, and how your job performance will be assessed.

When seeking guidance or information, you should take on the work of driving that conversation.

 

Prioritise tasks that matter to the business

It’s key to prioritise job responsibilities in terms of importance, rather than preference. Prioritise work that matters to your boss for the first 90 days, and the tasks that support their goals.

 

Take charge of your learning

Research free online programmes or books to boost your knowledge and speak to your HR manager to find out if the company offers internal programmes to accelerate learning. Is there someone who knows your job well? Enlist their help and offer help in return. It’ll boost your credibility for people to see you’re taking charge of your development and connecting with others in the organisation.

 

Relating to your boss

You ideally want to strike a balance between being conscientious and taking up too much of your boss’ time with a stream of questions. Ask how your boss prefers to be contacted and how often. Prepare any questions ahead of time so they get a chance to prep; or direct you to the relevant person.

Lastly, there is a balance to strike. If you disagree about something that isn’t fundamental, wait to tactfully bring up your concern after the first 90 days, by which time you should be well on the way to being a trusted ally and valued member of the team.

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Paul Johnson

SVP Resourcing & Learning

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