The First 90 Days

By Michael D. Watkins

 

Synopsis

This book provides proven strategies to make the first 90 days of a new job count. The framework here applies to start-ups and established businesses and helps anyone successfully take on a new role. To jump-start a new position, there are five focus points for diagnosing the new situation, creating strategies, and taking control quickly.

 

Summary

Assessing Your Strengths and Weaknesses

It's critical to self-evaluate strengths and weaknesses and how they relate to the responsibilities of the new role before creating a 90-day plan. By relating current skills to the specifics of the new role, it creates a smoother, faster transition and increases the chances of success.

It's important to remember that what may seem like strengths can sometimes be interpreted as weaknesses in a new role. While having attention to detail may have been a strength in a prior role, it could be seen as micro-management and lead to resentment. Once strengths and weaknesses are identified, and their impact is understood, it's time to create a strategy for filling in any gaps in skills and fine-tuning current skills.

 

Diagnosing Your Situation

With a clear understanding of how current skills relate to the new role, diagnosing the situation can begin. It's a common mistake for someone taking over a new role to want to make changes quickly before they understand the company climate. How the company operates and how they define the new role must be part of an effective diagnosis. Only when someone understands the company culture and politics will they be able to take the next steps.

  • What kind of business situation is it? Start-ups, turnarounds, realignments, and sustainable businesses all have unique climates requiring specific skills.
  • What are the specific challenges of the new role?
  • Is the company or department stagnant or growing?

 

Securing Early Wins

Once a strategy for success is in place, it's time to secure that all-important early win. This early win should be carefully designed based on the diagnosis of the situation. It's critical that any changes reflect an understanding of the people above and below and how that change affects the overall climate of the company or department. The goal here is to win support and begin building the foundation for trust and acceptance.

The best way to pull this off is to identify long-term goals and work backward. By understanding the end goal, it makes it easy to discover steps that have a good chance of being accepted. Keep in mind that wins don't have to be major changes, they can be small steps towards a worthy goal. The key is to find a win that is widely accepted and has a positive impact.

 

Negotiating With Your Boss

It's just as important to understand how the boss views the situation as it is to gain acceptance with peers and subordinates. Only when someone understands the boss's management style and viewpoints can they effectively take on their new role.

  • How does the boss see the current business situation?
  • What are the main concerns and expectations?
  • What resources are available in this new role?
  • What skills does the boss see as the most important and what skills does the boss see that need development?
  • What are the expectations for giving and receiving feedback?

 

Building Your Team

Once the groundwork is laid, it's time to build a successful team. Future success in any role will require a motivated and talented team with a common vision. The only way to build this team is to evaluate the current team members and have the willingness to make the necessary decisions. From possible promotions to letting someone go, these adjustments must be handled delicately to keep morale in place. As the new team comes together, it's important to define expectations and roles and how they relate to a common vision.