What Should You Achieve in Your First 90 Days at a New Job?
By Joe Issid
In recent times, it has become quite standard for political candidates to lay out a plan of what they will achieve, if elected, in their first 100 days in office. In fact, it has become such a common meme that many use this principle to measure their early success and accomplishments. But can or should this principle extend to the rest of us?
While our jobs may not be as publicly visible as those of heads of state, there are many commonalities that are shared between us: new people, new environments and new processes. And how you adapt to these elements will go a long way to determine your future prosperity and happiness in your new job. Having a well-defined approach can help stabilize you in your new environment and put you in a strong position to excel. Here are some approaches that can help you lay a strong foundation in your first 90 days.
Know your “product”
Hopefully, you spent a good deal of time and energy learning about your new employer and their respective industry during the interview process. Even so, it behooves you to spend some additional time in your first few weeks fully trying to understand your role within the company and the company’s role within their industry. Many new employees can get caught up in the micro details of their job that they often lose sight of the bigger picture. Having this broad view will help you contextualize your work and to better understand the product or service that your company produces. This can also help you understand the perspective of your customer – something that can prove invaluable when learning new tasks.
Embrace the team
I know this sounds ridiculously obvious but I have seen far too many new employees struggle in their early days as they do not make the right effort to become an accepted member of the team. Now, I am not suggesting that you try and become best friends with all your colleagues, but it is incredibly important to quickly learn everyone’s name and role so that you can understand how to interact with them on a professional level. Also, it is important that you fully understand your own role and how it intersects with everyone else on the team; this will help lay out a strong working foundation. You will also feel fulfilled in your job if you feel that you are able to integrate into the team quickly.
Your first couple of weeks on the job are likely to be a blur of new faces and places. As such, it is completely understandable if you feel somewhat overwhelmed. But you need to ensure that you spend this time learning as much as possible about your new surroundings. Your colleagues are (hopefully) going to be generous with their time in the early days to help you onboard smoothly. So, be sure to take advantage of this by absorbing as much information as possible as your immediate goal is to become self-sufficient quickly. Yes, ask as many questions as necessary and perform as much research as you can to get yourself up to speed. Nothing is going to make you feel more valuable to your new team than being able to pull your own weight.
Most Canadian employers have established some sort of probationary period to protect against bad hires. And these periods traditionally last 90 days as this has been widely determined as a reasonable time frame to properly evaluate a new employee. Whether you are enrolled in such a program or not, I would encourage you to actively solicit feedback from your supervisor (or other colleagues) within your first 90 days to ensure that you are on the right track and to correct any issues that may lead to problems down the road. I would recommend being proactive in this regard as it shows sincerity and a true willingness to learn and improve.
Historically, organisations have been reluctant to embrace the opinions of the newbie as they may lack context or institutional knowledge. However, many industries have started to learn that having “new eyes” can actually be extremely beneficial as a fresh perspective can help untangle long-standing problems. As such, it is important for you to approach your new job very objectively – even critically. Being new to the organization puts you in a unique position so try and use this to your advantage. Try and leverage this early on as you will rapidly lose your fresh perspective. If you are successful in developing a new process in your first 90 days you will take a major step towards improving your next 900 days.