Your first 100 days in the job will set the stage for your tenure at the company – it’s a make-or-break period. Get it right, and you’ll likely have a successful run there. Get it wrong, and it might be impossible to recover. So it pays to approach your first three months in any new job with a clear strategy in mind. Even if your company already has an established onboarding program, there’s still lots you can do that will get you off to a flying start.
Why it’s important for you to succeed
The first 100 days are important, as they will set your tone. The company has hired you because they believe you’re the best person for the job, but your tone and approach may be very different from your predecessor. Your colleagues will need time to get to know what makes you tick and how you like to do things.
The first three months are a chance to set and communicate your direction. This period will also establish your presence and reputation, which you can then build on as time goes on.
Take your time
Many people are eager to get started in their new role right away. They’re keen to get to work and start proving their value. They often want to start making decisions and making an immediate impact that’s visible to others. They feel they have something to prove and they want to hit the ground running.
But this can be a mistake. Without proper preparation and a good understanding of the company business, often these decisions are wrong. What worked in your last organization might not work here.
Naturally, you want to make a good impression, but rushed actions are often misguided. They can lead to people not trusting you, or even worse, thinking badly of you. And it’s not much of a step from that, to end up with people working to counteract you.
Remember – you’re the new person. Take a breath, pause a moment, and talk to people. Take time to figure out what’s going on, and to understand the issues facing your colleagues and the company as a whole. That way you’ll discover the mistakes others have made and the successes they’ve had – you can learn from them and take ‘informed’ action.
Keep a clear head
However well prepared you are, it’s impossible to truly get under the skin of a company unless you work there. And you can’t do it overnight. It takes time and effort to get to know the organization well and to understand how your role fits into that. You might find your initial ideas and impressions change along the way.
Start your first 100 days with the aim of understanding what success in your role looks like. This is your opportunity to get to know as much as possible about the company, and build a detailed a picture of how everything fits together. That way you’ll be able to judge how well you’re doing in your role, rather than just relying on a gut feeling.
By the end of the first three months, you’ll need to be crystal clear on:
- Your role and responsibilities – exactly what’s expected of you and how does that dovetail with everyone else’s roles and responsibilities?
- What does success looks like and how will it be measured? Is it about an improvement in sales revenue? More leads? The successful completion of a project? Exactly what evidence will you need to bring to any review of your performance?
- A strong and thorough understanding of how things work. What is the main purpose of the company? How does each department contribute to that and how do they work together to complement each other. Where does your role fit into all this?
- Building strong and established relationships with key folks in the organization.
Build strong professional relationships
Good communication is key to helping a company function efficiently, and building strong and positive professional relationships is the bedrock of successful team working. It’s worth making an effort to get this right from the start.
Find other people in that role who have been successful and talk to them. Consider the people that will enable you to be successful – they may be above you or below you. What do they need do be able to do their job well, so helping you to succeed? How should you work with them? What works for them and what doesn’t?
If you’re managing people, figure out who the key players are in your organization and get alongside them. Get to know where the problems are and deal with issues quickly. Start helping people around you to get under the skin of their role. Go on sales calls, take the blame if things go wrong, contribute to their success, and praise them when they do well.
If your contribution is more individual, partner up with the best person on the team and review your work with them. Ask their opinion about it at first. Solicit advice and feedback, and aim to act on it so people will see you’re serious about getting to know how things are done.
Work on things that matter rather than low-level activities, but don’t take on too big a project too soon. It’s better to start small, and build momentum and credibility, than to overstretch yourself and crash and burn.
You’re ready to fly
Once you’ve taken time to get to know about the company you’re working for and your place within that structure, as well as building strong relationships with your coworkers, it’s time to take stock.
Take time out to think things through, and have a clear picture in your head of the way things work. Understand as much as possible about each department, including their purpose, their problems and successes, and the key people within each section.
Be clear about your role, how your success will be measured, and who will be making the judgements. Make sure your work schedule for the coming months reflects everything you’ve learnt and will have maximum positive impact on your team, department and the organization.
Then you can get started making decisions and taking action, confident in the knowledge that you’ve done your homework thoroughly and you’re ready to fly.
Author: Chris Bolte