The Executive’s Guide To The First 90 Days

Much has been written about the early days in a new position—specifically focused on new leaders taking on new teams, more responsibility, and even an entire company as CEO. The landmark book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins is one many point to for advice and begins by stating, “The actions you take in your first three months in the new job will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.” That’s a lot of pressure to do all the right things in your first quarter on the job.

According to a study conducted by International Data Corporation: “U.S. and U.K. employees cost businesses an estimated $37 billion every year because they do not fully understand their jobs.” By embracing a new culture and developing an initial sense of purpose, you will increase your chance of success and demonstrate your abilities right off the bat.

In addition, your peers, your boss and/or your board of directors form opinions about you based on limited information they gather during initial interactions. The goal should be to positively shape their impressions early on to the best of your ability. There are several ways to go about this.

Listen & Learn

This is a no-brainer. Look at every avenue—even before you start the job. Research what’s been said about your new company in the press and online. Follow all social media channels of your new company, your key clients, and most significant competitors.

In that first 90 days, spend time and systematically meet and greet your colleagues and all key constituents. Really get to know the leaders and performers in the company. Focus more on cultural and overall business aspects rather than the technical parts of the company as you educate yourself and you acclimate to the business. Key learning early on will allow you to establish a baseline of where you are, so you can determine your progress moving forward.

Lock In Approval

In addition to the benefits of learning listed above, listening will set the tone for your tenure. Providing your team with a feeling of inclusion and importance is imperative to gaining trust early, and earning the buy-in of your peers and team.

“Build momentum by creating virtuous cycles that build credibility and by avoiding getting caught in vicious cycles that damage credibility,” is one of Watkins’ recommended key principles.

Build Alignment & Communicate

At the leadership level, change fosters uncertainty. Initially, communicate your key learnings to show you have listened. Based on that, set some initial priorities and become an advocate in areas you deem appropriate. Show intent with your own 90-day plan that includes tangible deliverables. Teams will want to monitor and hear about your progress at regular intervals.

Showing what values you stand for and clearly communicating expectations is crucial in the beginning of your tenure. You may even get as specific as outlining metrics by which your team will be evaluated.

In the rush to build this plan and start achieving goals, don’t skip over the basics of team building. Getting people to work together isn’t easy, and often, many leaders bypass this important step. Alignment will come more readily by spending quality time with members of the team.

The bottom line is, your actions in the first few months can have a major impact on your success in the new role, and subsequently the success of your team and your company.

At Executives Unlimited, we connect companies with leaders. Over 90% of the executives placed since 2009 are still in their positions or have been promoted. For information about our services, please call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online today.

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