The first 90 days in a new job is a crucial period on two levels. Firstly to pass your probationary period and secondly to formulate your reputation within the business. This means that first impressions matter! Most people that you will interact with would’ve already made up their mind of what to think of you in the first 12 weeks. Therefore, it’s important to get off on a firm foot and create the right brand for you. In this blog I’m going to provide you with 7 key tips when starting a new job so that you can successfully navigate your first 90 days.
1) Observe your office environment
This is vital in the first 90 days of your new job. Rather than jumping in and making your presence felt, in my opinion it’s better to work your way in slowly. You want to make your presence felt in the right way and by observing your environment you can gauge a temperature check on the business culture understand the office hierarchies , who are influential individuals are and what are the office politics. Observe to identify who are potential allies, those who sit in the middle and those that are going to be obstacles for you.
How this looks in the practical sense is that when you go to a meeting you say less and be present in the moment. Observe people’s body language and how they’re acting with one another. Who is dominant, who are submissive who’s behaviour changes in different people in the room. Who makes a lot of noise, who are the ones that complain a lot and also, those individuals that quietly go about their business. This is all fantastic data for you from which you can strategise your approach to working with people, having certain conversations and those to keep at arm’s length.
Just to let you know we’re not just interview coaching experts, but we also provide extensive career support. So if you are needing some support to guide you through the first months of your new job drop us a message and we’ll be happy to help.
2) Connect with Co-workers and Listen
That’s part self orientation in your first 90 days of your new role you’re going to interact and engage with many co-workers within the business. You’ll do this as part of your day-to-day job role where you’re attending meetings. However, it’s more important in my opinion to actually be proactive and connect with them. There’s two important reasons for this, firstly, anyone that you might reach out to, will actually appreciates that you have been mindful of them, and therefore there’s a natural appreciation for your gesture. Secondly, through having this engagement, the interaction will allow you to learn more about their business area, as well as their motivators, drivers, their personality and quirks.
Here the key is that you have to listen, you ask the questions and show curiosity because the more they speak the more information you’re able to gather. Including their business area, as well as the relationships they have within the wider organisation. In some instances you might find that some colleagues aren’t talking and that you’re having to do most of the speaking. Don’t see this as a negative, their in-action itself indicates that they are cautious and possibly suspicious of why you’ve reached out to them and want to speak to them. Which would mean either that you need to spend more time to get them to open up or if they’re suspicious, try to understand why they feel this way.
Further, it might be worth tagging this individual as someone to be careful around in terms of how you behave and what you say, at least until you become more settled into the role.
3) Understand your line manager
Probably the most important person that will have a direct impact in your day-to-day job will be your direct line manager. Most of the time your line manager will be your biggest supporter; they’re the ones that hired you and this is a crucial relationship. Getting off on the right foot and the first 90 days is of great importance here. The majority of the time this should be very straightforward since you’ve previously met them through the job interview process. However, understanding key aspects of your line manager’s personality can help you ensure that you’re able to adapt your actions and engagements with them to get the most out of the relationship. So, what area should you be assessing? I have listed five key areas that you should consider.
- Their Motivators – What is the most important thing in their job? I.e. their reputation, delivering on promises.
- Which actions will get you the most praise – for example. Rather than presenting the information in a spreadsheet you spend a further 10 minutes creating some tables and putting it to a PPT and emailing it to them as a PDF.
- What are their dislikes – this is self explanatory
- How do they behave with their subordinates in contrast to their line managers and seniors.
- What could be their insecurities – If they have an insecurity that you’ve identified, such as delivering engaging presentations, you may want to avoid delivering a way better presentation before or after than, particularly when more senior colleagues are present. There is no worse situation when your boss is jealous of you.
4) Do your job well and make your work visible
This is of course a given. Whether it’s in the first 90 days of your new job or two years into a role you should always aim to do your job to the highest standards, because that’s what you’re paid to do. However, alongside doing your job well, is to make your work visible! This means, making sure that your line manager and your colleagues are aware of the work that you’re doing. Including the creating awareness about the amount of effort that you have putting in to a particular piece of work. You have to be your own biggest cheerleader no one else is going to do it for you!
So how do you practically do this, firstly when you’re speaking with colleagues whether it’s to small talk you make sure that you highlight some of the work that you’ve done. Don’t underplay your achievements and the work that you’ve done so far. This is not the place or time to be modest, Because they don’t have a benchmark or what you’re capable of. Therefore it might be perceived as lacking confidence or that you are not working as hard as you should be.
5) Look for quick wins
One of the fastest ways to get into the good books of your colleagues and Line Management is to do certain tasks and actions that get them on board quickly. This means looking for quick wins. So what does a quick win look like? Well let’s firstly define what a quick win isn’t, a quick win isn’t doing something for a co-worker that isn’t part of your job remit. This is something that’s extremely dangerous because it’s likely that they will come back to you in the future for you to help them or support them from that same task. Now, as you haven’t created the appropriate boundaries this could lead to you having excess workload and more stress.
The keyword here is collaboration, looking not only for the quick wins if possible but also converting that action into a win-win. Where both parties mutually benefit. It could be as simple as grabbing a coffee with a co-worker and then offering to pay.
6) Do your very own SWOT Analysis
One of the big advantages that you have in the first 90 days of joining an organisation is that you have a sense of perspective. You are not engrossed in the company politics, the company culture or built any particular relationships and therefore can proceed with far more objectivity. It’s important to take advantage of this opportunity to help you better understand the organisation and make an impact within the first 90 days. By doing a SWOT analysis looking at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to yourself and in relation to the organisation. This will give you clarity in terms of what steps you need to be taking.
Also, as you become more accustomed to the company politics and ingrain yourself into the company culture you still are able to stay connected to the objective perceptions that you gained from your SWOT analysis. This is key, to ensure that you stay on course with your original objectives when joining the company and optimally navigate through your job role.
7) Have a Monthly (30 day) Strategy
Since we’re trying to get through your first 90 days which essentially coincides with your probationary period it’s important to break up those 90 days into segments and think about how you are going to increase your presence and your impact within the business over that period of time. This will ensure that you organically grow within the business and hopefully within the first 90 days become indispensable.
Below are some of my tips are things to take into account and to consider for the first 30 days, up to day 60 and then up to 90 days.
First 30 days of a new job
This is where my earlier advice of observing and listening is going to be crucial. Now importantly this does not mean that you do not show enthusiasm or energy. Still be yourself and be excited about the new role. However take notes of your observations and through listening to those conversations and get a full picture of the political, cultural, team dynamic and expectations within you within the business.
Day 31 to 60 of you new job
Start prioritising which activities and actions are visible so that others can also see that you are already contributing positively to the business. Of course, this doesn’t mean you overlook the less glamorous parts of your job. However, as you grew into the job it’s important to ensure that you’re to have a certain degree of control of your colleagues and your boss are perceive you.
Day 61 to 90 of your new job
By this point you would have already settled into your role, show casing your skills and have an understanding of the company dynamic. This of course all therefore results in you gaining a positive reputation within the organisation. Now, is the perfect time to start the process of making a strategic impact! When you took the job there was an element and an expectation that you were to bring improvements and deliver change. You can now really begin that process! Start off by focusing on the quick wins and collaboration. This means that you are further developing your reputation within the business but also getting those around you excited about you being a change agent. The you are somebody capable of bringing people together and delivering change. Finally, what all of this means to you is that you’ve masterfully navigated your first 90 days and have become a vital cog in the business.
A large majority of professionals who end up struggling in their first 90 days are graduates. This is why it’s important to find the right graduate role where a company takes these factors into account. This is why it’s important to do your research before you apply, understanding factors such as the average graduate salary and most progressive industries.