The First 90 Days

The First 90 Days

Recently I read a book The first 90 days which talks about how to transition to new role successfully and how first 90 days in new role plays a significant role for smooth transition.

The president of the United States gets 100 days to prove himself; you get 90. The actions you take during your first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.

  • Transitions into new roles are the most challenging times in the professional lives of leaders.
  • Success or failure during the first few months is a strong predictor of overall success or failure in the job. So even though a bad transition does not necessarily doom you to failure, it makes success a lot less likely.

Below are the few key take aways from the book which will help anyone while transitioning to new role or job

1. Prepare yourself

This means making a mental break from your old job and preparing to take charge in the new one. Perhaps the biggest pitfall you face is assuming that what has made you successful to this point will continue to do so. The dangers of sticking with what you know, working extremely hard at doing it, and failing miserably are very real.

2. Accelerate your learning

Need to climb the learning curve as fast as you can in your new organisation. This means understanding its markets, products, technologies, systems, and structures, as well as its culture and politics. Learning about a new organisation can feel like drinking from a fire hose. You must be systematic and focused about deciding what you need to learn and how you will learn it most efficiently.

3. Match your strategy to the situation

Different types of situations require you to make significant adjustments in how you plan for and execute your transition. Start-ups, for instance of a new product, process, plant, or business present challenges quite different from those you would face while turning around a product, process, or plant in serious trouble. A clear diagnosis of the situation is an essential pre-requisite for developing your action plan.

4. Secure early wins

Early wins build your credibility and create momentum. They create virtuous cycles that leverage the energy you put into the organization to create a pervasive sense that good things are happening. In the first few weeks, you need to identify opportunities to build personal credibility. In the first 90 days, you need to identify ways to create value and improve business results that will help you get to the break-even point more rapidly.

5. Negotiate success

Because no other single relationship is more important, you need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss (or bosses) and manage her expectations. This means carefully planning for a series of critical conversations about the situation, expectations, working style, resources, and your personal development. Crucially, it means developing and gaining consensus on your 90-day plan.

6. Achieve alignment

The higher you rise in an organisation, the more you must play the role of organisational architect. This means figuring out whether the organisation’s strategic direction is sound, bringing its structure into alignment with its strategy, and developing the processes and skill bases necessary to realize your strategic intent.

7. Build your team

If you are inheriting a team, you need to evaluate, align, and mobilize its members. You likely also need to restructure it to better meet the demands of the situation. Your willingness to make tough early personnel calls and your capacity to select the right people for the right positions are among the most important drivers of success during your transition and beyond. You need to be both systematic and strategic in approaching the team-building challenge.

8. Create coalitions

Your success depends on your ability to influence people outside your direct line of control. Supportive alliances, both internal and external, are necessary if you are to achieve your goals. You therefore should start right away to identify those whose support is essential for your success, and to figure out how to line them up on your side.

9. Keep your balance

In the personal and professional tumult of a transition, you must work hard to maintain your equilibrium and preserve your ability to make good judgments. The risks of losing perspective, becoming isolated, and making bad calls are ever present during transitions. There is much you can do to accelerate your personal transition and to gain more control over your work environment. The right advice-and-counsel network is an indispensable resource.

10. Accelerate everyone

Finally, you need to help all those in your organisation—direct reports, bosses, and peers—accelerate their own transitions. The fact that you’re in transition means they are too. The quicker you can get your new direct reports up to speed, the more you will help your own performance. Beyond that, the potential benefits to the organisation of systematically accelerating everyone’s transitions are vast.

Reaching the Break-Even Point

  • Your goal in every transition is to get as rapidly as possible to the break-even point.
  • This is the point at which you have contributed as much value to your new organisation as you have consumed from it.

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  • As shown above, new leaders are net consumers of value early on as they learn and begin to take action, they begin to create value.
  • From the break-even point onward, they are net contributors of value to their organisations

When more than two hundred company CEOs and presidents were asked for their best estimates of the time it takes a typical midlevel leader who has been promoted or hired from the outside to reach the break-even point, the average of their responses was 6.2 months.

The quality of hiring of a company can be measured by AVG break even point (in days or months) across teams for new joiners or for people who transitioned to new role. This should be ideally as less as possible for the organisation to get net value from employees.

Alyssa Holland's photo

This book is on my "To Read" list after being recommended to me a little while back. Thanks for the overview!

Edidiong Asikpo's photo

Wow. There are so many insightful tips in this article. Thank you so much!

vishnu chilamakuru's photo

Great it helped you.