The First 90 Days: 10 Steps to Help You Ace a New Role
The first 90 days in a new role are extremely important — in fact, they can determine your overall success or failure in that role. That’s the basic premise of Michael D. Watkins’ best-seller, The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.
In his book, Watkins talks about what transitions are and why they are extremely important from the perspective of both the employee and the organization. If you’re a recruiter heading into a new role, read on to find out how to set yourself up for success!
What Is a Transition?
Any new role you take on qualifies as a transition. It could be:
• A promotion
• Moving to a new function
• Moving to a new company
• Handling an additional function
• Becoming the CEO of a company
• Taking a managerial position for the first time
• Taking a new job
“Early in your transition, you inevitably feel as if you are drinking from a fire hose.” – Michael D. Watkins
Why Are Transitions Important?
Meet my friend, Sophia. Unlike her mother, who spent all 40 years of her professional life at the same company, Sophia has already changed jobs four times in nearly 10 years. After a successful stint as senior sales executive, Sophia is all set to head both the sales and marketing divisions at the tech company where she works. Yep, she just got promoted again! Sophia’s story is probably familiar, because transitions have become an inevitable part of all of our professional lives at this point.
Based on his decades of experience and research, Watkins says any missteps in the first three months of your new role can hamper your success. Focusing on accelerating your transition can speed up your progress, according to Watkins.
Your actions during your first few weeks will have a disproportionate impact on your job performance because they are as much about symbolism as about substance.
How Can Companies Manage Transitions?
Because accelerating transitions has a huge impact on business performance, Watkins would recommend that the managers and leaders of Sophia’s company gather and keep track of data related to transitions in their company. Not only should Sophia’s company track such transitions, but it should also link its acceleration systems to its leadership development and recruiting systems in order to see the best results.
Companies should also be sure to look at fit while hiring, in addition to the set of required capabilities. Watkins says that organizations should think about and factor in transition risks while engaging in recruiting efforts. While leadership development systems help prepare talent to go to the next level, there should also be transition acceleration systems that help them prepare as well.
Building a team you’ve inherited is like repairing a leaky ship in the middle of the ocean. You will not reach your destination if you ignore the necessary repairs, but you do not want to try to change too much too fast and sink the ship. The key is to find the right balance between stability and change.
How Can Leaders Deal With Transitions?
Watkins says that one can cut the time it takes to reach the break-even point (defined as the point where you have contributed as much value to a company as you have derived from it) by as much as 40 percent if they rigorously apply the principles of his book.
It’s surprising how many companies are unable to answer basic questions about the number of people who are being hired, getting promoted, moving between units, and making lateral moves. Without good jobs data on the frequency of transitions — and, critically, without awareness of when they are occurring — it’s difficult to design acceleration systems.
Having a great working relationship with your boss is key in helping you make a successful transition. You need to have their support for your 90-day plan, so it’s critical to discuss with them key subjects including expectations, objectives, preferred working style, and resources.
Align Your STARS
STARS is a simple checklist designed to help people manage role transitions. The acronym stands for: startup, turnaround, accelerated growth, realignment, and sustaining success. These are the five most common business situations one is most likely to encounter while undergoing a transition. The STARS model is such that anybody, irrespective of their level in an organization, can apply it to accelerate their transition.
What are the key steps to make a successful transition?
- Learn fast
- Create a suitable strategy
- Get those early wins
- Loop your boss in
- Bring about an order
- Be a good captain
- Work on relationships
- Take care of yourself
- Get your colleagues on board
“The golden rule of transitions is to transition others as you would wish to be transitioned yourself.” – Michael D. Watkins
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