How a 90-day plan can give you the best start
Landing a new dream job or a promotion is a great confidence booster, but very quickly the doubts can start to creep in.
What if I don’t deliver what they need, what do I do if my new team doesn’t accept me, what do I focus on to start with?
You know you have the right skills and experience to do a good job over time. But in a world where first impressions are so important, how do you make sure that you make an impact in those critical first few weeks?
Why it’s so important to plan the first 90 days
Even the most talented leaders and managers can struggle during the early days of a new role. The pressures of trying to make an impression in those first weeks, getting to know your stakeholders, wanting acceptance from a new team, not to mention having new things to learn, are real pressures that can lead to poor decisions.
All of this can lead to a loss of confidence that can be difficult to rebuild.
But what if you took some very deliberate steps in those early days to help create a strong foundation to build from?
The first thing to do is to be mindful of the common new job pitfalls.
Before focusing on your plan of action, it is well worth being aware of the mistakes you can avoid to ensure a smooth transition.
New job pitfalls…..what to avoid
- Not having a clear plan in place or making assumptions about what’s expected of you
- Not making the time to listen, to team members, colleagues, and stakeholders, before forming an opinion on what needs to change
- Assuming that you can apply your skills in the same way as in your former role
- Trying to implement change too much or too quickly
- Assuming everything is broken, and it’s your job to fix it
- Not building the right alliances
- Taking on too much too soon, or over-promising
- Learning goals are pushed down your priority list
- Talking about your last company or role too often or too idealistically
I’m sure you’ve seen examples of these pitfalls from colleagues or recruitment horror stories. So, to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes, a 90-day plan can make sure you begin with confidence.
Start with a goal
The simple act of clarifying what you want to achieve will give you a critical conversation starter with your new boss. What’s more, it will improve the likelihood of you being effective from day one.
Your plan should cover the information you need from others, who you need to prioritise in terms of early introductions and meetings, what you want to achieve in the first 90 days, and the knowledge gaps you need to fill.
Taking this approach can help you to:
- Quickly win the confidence of your new manager and stakeholders
- Build good relationships with your manager, team members, and peers
- Resolve any conflict with other teams that you may inherit
- Secure better support for your ideas and requests
- Demonstrate a high expectation for performance for yourself and your team
- Show that you’re open and committed to learning more about your new employer
- Demonstrate that you want to adapt to what’s great about your new environment, without losing sight of what you can uniquely bring
Create a high-level 90-day plan
Your high-level 90-day plan should include at least these five categories:
1. Business knowledge checklist
What information do you need before joining, or early on, that gives you an insight into financial performance, key products, offices, and locations, to ensure you are familiar with the business?
- List what information you’d like to have or people you’d like to meet as part of your induction
- If you’re moving roles within your current company, try to find out about any changes in the team, performance, movement of staff, key clients, etc.
- If there is any acronyms or unique terms that you need to know to sound like ‘a local’ ask for a list and their meanings
2. Stakeholder review
- Create a map of key stakeholders and schedule when you will meet them (if you can meet them informally before your first day, this may also help you to discover other valuable contacts)
- Consider all the depts/partners/clients that your team work with
- Consider people who have high-level input on decisions
- While investing time into meeting members of your direct team and your boss is important, your peers, support staff, skip-level meetings will all be valuable and potentially be more revealing of facts you need to know
- You will also need the details of any formal meetings and forums that form part of governance or decision making
- Listen, really listen to what people are telling you
3. Set expectations
- How can you quickly understand the company’s performance and personal review structure: find out what ‘good vs excellent’ looks like in this team and how this is measured
- Clarify what’s expected of you – don’t rely on what you were told in the interview process or make assumptions based on your own aspirations or pre-conceptions
- How do you want to communicate? Who needs to be kept up to date, and what do you need from others?
4. Working with a new culture
What plan will you put in place to ensure you understand the new culture?
Things to consider:
- What were you told during the interview process?
- What meetings will you need to have to understand the culture and how will you validate your findings?
- What feedback process will you use to encourage your new team to be open and honest with you?
- What influence does company culture have? Does your communication and leadership style complement or clash with others? What will you adapt, and what do you feel is important to stay authentic?
5. Create a learning plan
- Create a SWOT (or similar) to identify opportunities for growth
- What will you need to learn in your new role, and how will you learn it?
- Carve out dedicated time to invest in your development
- Be honest about your learning goals are
By creating a clear 90-day plan that incorporates these five steps, you will be more prepared for your new role and avoid falling into some of the common traps of stepping into a new leadership role.
And one final trap to avoid?
“At company X we did it this way…” Limit the amount of time you spend telling people about your last job. People quickly tire of hearing what worked well or what you did at your last company. Don’t assume your new company/team don’t do things that way or haven’t tried them.
Think about how you can ‘re-frame’ recommending something that has worked for you previously. For example, ask about the advantages of why things are done a certain way, what other ideas have been put forward, what have they already tried, or if ‘solution X’ was ever considered.
You may have ideas or even the solution to the team’s problem, but early-on you want to temper the urge to recommend a ‘fix’ before you have the full picture.
No matter how well your career has been going, changing roles can often bring new challenges and opportunities that rely on you being able to learn and develop.
Don’t get caught out assuming your previous success can be dropped into the new role. By taking the time to create a 90-day plan, you can feel in control of your new role. Furthermore, with a leadership coach at your side, you also have the benefit or regular check-ins to review your progress and keep you on track with your first three months in your new role.
Start your new role in the strongest position
Banish new job nerves with a strong plan of action. With my 90-Day New Leadership Coaching Package, I can help you to develop a clear 90-day plan, backed up with progress reviews, check-ins and support. All of this will give you a strong start and allow you to make a positive impact in your new role from day one.