Your Week-By-Week Guide To Nailing The First 90 Days On The Job
You’ve got the job!
After the excruciating effort of being on top form for hours of interviews, phone calls and coffees, you can finally relax.
They like you. Job done!
Well, not quite. Sure, they like you – or they wouldn’t have hired you. But once a new employee starts, every hiring manager is terrified they’ll discover (while the rest of the business looks on) that they made a mistake.
They’re scared they hired someone who won’t deliver on the promises they made in the interview.
Someone who doesn’t get on with the team.
Someone who is unreliable.
In short, no matter how thrilled your boss was to offer you the job, rest assured they’ll be watching you like a hawk during your first few months.
People form opinions about you in the first 90 days that stick. There’s a lot at stake.
But don’t worry, I’ve got a week-by-week roadmap to help you nail this critical period, starting right at the beginning (and by beginning, I mean the job interview. If you’ve already got the job, never fear – you can catch up at step 2).
1. THE INTERVIEW STAGE
Before your interview
Find out as much as you can about the company, its competitors, and the wider industry.
During the interview
Dive deeper. Find out what challenges and opportunities are facing the company and your team, and what part you can play in meeting them.
Ask “What do I need to achieve in my first 30, 60, 90 days?’. Acknowledge any gaps in your experience, and how you plan to address them.
2. BEFORE YOU START
Ask what you can do before your first day
Very few people do this, but it makes a big impact. Make sure you follow through though!
Clear your schedule
The first few months in a new job are an intense time. Plan accordingly. Try to minimise outside obligations and annual leave, and get some extra support lined up at home if you need it.
Connect with the company, your team and the senior exec online
Follow the company on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, or wherever else they have a presence. Sign up for their blog or newsletters. Connect with and follow colleagues on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Start using the product or service (if applicable)
It doesn’t matter if you’re not in sales or product development; if you don’t understand the company from a customer’s perspective, it’s going to be very difficult to understand what part you play in its success.
3. THE FIRST WEEK
Meet with your boss
Find out how they like to communicate (formal meetings, coffee catch ups, email), and how often. Nail down a plan for reviewing your progress during the first few months.
Show up early and don’t be the first to leave
You don’t need to keep this up indefinitely, but this is the time to put in the hours. Trust me, if you’re showing up after and leaving before your established colleagues, it will be noticed. And there’s so much to learn when you first start, you’ll need all the hours you can get.
Find a buddy
Identify someone with the capacity and willingness to answer all of the little questions that you don’t want to bother your boss with multiple times a day.
4. WEEK TWO
Ask, don’t tell
No matter how backwards your new company’s processes and systems appear to you, always resist the temptation to utter that phrase that everyone hates to hear: “At my last company, we did it this like this…” Sure, you might have been hired specifically to bring new ideas to the team, but you need to earn the right first.
So instead of making judgements, ask lots of questions. For example, if your colleagues are using a tool that seems a strange choice for the task, ask ‘Why do you use this tool?’, ‘How do you find it?’, and ‘Is there anything you think it could do better?’. Perhaps it turns out they have a very good reason for using it. Or maybe it will lead into a productive, friendly discussion about alternatives.
Create your draft 30-60-90 day plan
Make it as specific as possible. Talk it through with your manager and get their approval.
Keep in mind that there will be office politics at play you know nothing about
Be friendly with everyone, but don’t get drawn into gossip. When in doubt, copy everyone into emails that could potentially concern them. Better to be asked to leave off certain names next time, than to put someone’s nose out of joint.
5. THE FIRST MONTH
Learn how to do your core responsibilities
Ideally by the end of the first 90 days, you want to get to the point where it takes less than your full working week to get through your core responsibilities, leaving you with some padding for stretch projects.
Address any gaps in your skills
If you have any areas that need work, don’t wait for your company to provide extra training. Right now, it’s never been easier to take charge of your own learning.
Get to know EVERYONE
Catch up over lunch with each of your immediate team members and any other key stakeholders, and pick their brains: What are they trying to achieve? How can you play a part in that? What tips do they have for new players?
Also, make an effort to get to know other people who may not be directly involved in your work. People like the office manager, the HR officer or the woman from IT can be critical to your happiness at work and often have their finger on the pulse. Step out for a takeaway coffee with them.
6. BY THE END OF THE FIRST 90 DAYS
As the first three months draw to a close, you should be well on your way towards:
- Mastering your core work
- Identifying at least one stretch project, and mapped out a plan
- Reviewing your 90-day plan with your manager and seeking their feedback on your performance
Follow this roadmap, and not only will you show your new employer that they definitely made the right decision in hiring you; you’ll also set yourself up for an enjoyable new chapter in your career.