The First 90 Days:  5 Suggestions to Transition

Career transitions are a critical time for people. However, moving to a new manager role can present challenges. While transitions offer a chance to start fresh and initiate changes in an organisation, they also place leaders in a position of vulnerability.

As a fresh recruit, how you show up during the first 90 days of your role is essential. Missteps made during the first three months in a new role can minimise or even derail your success. 

So, start with the intention to listen, learn and observe to ensure you get in the flow and make an impact. As Stephen Covey of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People advocated, essential habits are to be proactive and to seek first to understand before being understood.

Establishing yourself in your new role can be supported by securing early wins.

A game plan will ensure your long-term success and help set you apart from the crowd. You want to avoid simply reacting to a new role’s whirlwind twists and turns and instead make a difference. You want to ultimately have a confident “yes” when friends and family ask about your career transition and whether the role is for you. 

Here are five suggestions to transition to get in the flow:

Suggestion 1: Prepare yourself. Start before you start.

Before starting the role, develop an expectations roadmap with your manager for the first 90 days. Be explicit to learn how you both best work. Share your user manual and be curious about theirs – preferences, values, strengths, passions. Design a schedule for regular check-in huddles at least once a week to align on expectations and desired outcomes. Ask for an advanced copy of any business artefacts, e.g. plans, org chart or recent reports to pre-read over a coffee. These actions send a message that you are thinking strategically and being proactive on how to integrate best and add value.

Suggestion 2: Create monthly milestones

Break down the first 90 days into 30-day blocks (30, 60, 90) and set monthly goals that escalate performance and transformation. Invest in connections and rapport with diverse people by being present with them. Ask the team to have the opportunity to shadow key processes, projects or priorities to deepen your understanding of services. Practice curiosity and openness to seek to understand. There will be the added benefit of creating space and pace to invest in key relationships and spend time with intention.

Suggestion 3: Build trust with small wins

Avoid the temptation of trying to do too much, too soon. Instead, focus on implementing small changes and finding team wins, even if they’re tiny. Practice conscious listening. Small and steady co-designed wins build trust and engagement. Finally, establish your reputation as a leader who can be relied on —one who has the value of working with people to perform and transform.

Suggestion 4: Learn the work rhythm

Your new team may move at a different pace than your previous one, so sync your speed with them – at least in the beginning. All employers say they want new managers to bring new ideas, but understanding when and where to introduce them is vital for your credibility and core relationships. Try to refrain from talking about your old employer or team too much and how they did things, as that could give the impression you are judging your new team or providing a performance comparison.

Actively participate in observing and learning from the first three meeting and management reporting cycles to gain clarity and shared understanding before making swift changes or adopting practice recommendations.

Suggestion 5: Plan and align for day 91

Day 91 is the time to scale what you have learned and extend your ripple impact. The following 90-120 days is growth time. First, reflect on all the ideas, observations and insights on team culture, customer experience, values, practices and processes you have collected. Next, present a summary of the team’s accomplishments during your first 90 days. Then align with your team on the goals for the rest of the year. Finally, identify how you will measure success together.

These suggestions will help you get the right balance between adapting to the new situation and trying to alter it. Preparing for a new role takes effort, so set yourself up for success with clear expectations, and practice listening, learning and observing through a 90-day agreed plan.

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