How to succeed in your first 90 days in a new role

6 min

No matter what stage of your career, securing a new opportunity or experiencing a promotion is an exciting time for your development. The best thing you can do now is set yourself up for success. The ground work from here is critical and can determine if you succeed or fail in the new role. There are proven strategies that can shorten your learning curve and build momentum to succeed. In fact, author Michael Watkins has researched the importance of the first 90 days in a new role and offers valuable insights in his book aptly titled “The First 90 Days.”

According to Watkins, what you do early on during a job transition is what matters most. The actions you take during your first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail. There are a lot of factors to consider and setting a good impression across the board is important. Your team form opinions about you based on limited information, first impressions are hard to change. As well as considering the team culture, this is also the time to create a game plan around how you will achieve objectives and demonstrate the value you bring to your company.

The goal is to reach the breakeven point as soon as possible. In other words, you want your contributions to meet the company’s investment in you. Implementing strategies to optimise your first 90 days is going to help you accelerate your new transition and get there up to 40% faster.

Here, we highlight our tips to ensure you excel in your role within the first 90 days:

1. Prepare and learn

If possible, taking a break before the transition is ideal to help prepare yourself. First and foremost, you have to mentally and emotionally prepare. Consciously let go of your old job and imagine yourself in your new role, be ready and excited to learn, grow and thrive in this new position.

Be proactive and ask your manager to share anything that will allow you to learn more about the company, role and competitive marketplace prior to your commencement date. If there is new technology that will be utilised, you can look for online tutorials to get ahead of that learning curve.

Be sure not to rush into any new role assuming you know what is required or thinking you’ll change things right away. Not only will this hinder our success but your new team and colleagues will not be impressed with that approach either. No matter where in the corporate ladder you are, be humble in realising, you need to learn first and then action, this thinking will save you a lot of time and pain points, it allows you to define what you need to learn and how you can get up to speed in those areas as quickly as possible.

2. Take ownership of your role
Now is the time to send the right message to your colleagues as well as setting your standards and expectations for your role. It is crucial that you take responsibility for your own work. The key here is not to assume that what worked in a previously position will work for you in your new role, different situations call for different strategies. You need to take 100% responsibility for your role and work with your team to set clear, realistic expectations around your goals and resources. Take accountability and responsibility for your role and it will set a good impression across the board.

3. Meet your team
Once you’re feeling clear in your role and what you need to achieve, it’s time to meet the team. Be proactive in your approach and reach out to all relevant stakeholders within the business to set up meetings with them. You want to show you are eager to meet them and learn more about what they do, be tactful in your conversations and listen more than you speak. This is however also an opportunity for you to share with them who you are and what you are hoping to achieve in your new role. Authenticity is the key here, by being authentically yourself it shows people who you are from the get go.

By taking the time to network and build these relationships with your leadership team, peers and subordinates in the early stages you will lay solid foundations with your colleagues built on mutual respect. This is also an opportunity to cultivate allies within the business, including those within and outside your reporting line. Allies are valuable as you navigate the business and your new role as they will provide support and insight into how you can best succeed.

Additionally, this is also the time to build your own team. Whether you’re inheriting an existing team or building a new one, you want to be sure to assess, align and utilise every member of your team to their maximum potential. Take the time to understand their strengths and weaknesses in an encouraging way. You want to inspire your new team and ensure they are feeling excited about your leadership.

4. Find alignment in your new environment
You are operating in a new environment and it’s important to understand how things work in your new company. Take the time to scope out your new surroundings and find out what makes the organisation or department tick, your colleagues can help you gain this insight but also be observant. Be aware of what is going on around you and how the business works. Be open to adapting to new ways of doing things and be mindful of making any negative assessments too soon, understand where these processes or projects came from and tread carefully in being critical.

Once you have your bearings and gain this understanding, it will be far easier to align various organisational components such as strategy, structure, processes and resources. In this process you will also be able to identify potential mis-alignments and work on developing initial plans on how to address them, but do not rush into action. Plan and sit with it until the time is right to execute change.

5. Secure early victories
Though it is not the time to make large organisational changes you should be aiming to secure some small wins. If you fail to build momentum during your transition, it’ll be hard to drive results moving forward. By achieving goals early in your role, it will help build your confidence but also showcase your value to the team. These wins should be based on SMART goals to show you can contribute to the way things work now and meet your business expectations in delivering these tasks. By securing these early victories you will also start building your credibility and gaining respect from your team.

6. Manage and take care of yourself
Transitions can be overwhelming as there is a lot to process, from the organisational culture to the nuances of operations and everything in between. You will find you need to juggle expectations to deliver whilst in a midst of uncertainty and lack of knowledge. Additionally, you need to balance between advice from others and your own judgements as well as the demands of the new role and your family life. Find a system that works for you and stay true to it, with everything going on it can likely send you into a flurry and it’s important to stay grounded during this time. Honesty really is the best policy here; it allows you to be true to yourself and also show your boss that you are a real person. The right organisation will value your authenticity and provide an environment where you can thrive in that. Be kind to yourself during this transition and make sure to allow yourself time to unwind after a busy day so that you can be rested and ready to tackle each day with a fresh and clear mind.

Starting a new role is a big transition in anyone’s career and it’s important you tackle it with the right mindset and make the most of this time. By considering these strategies you will be able to lay a solid foundation for success and help yourself navigate the new organisation and team in a positive and productive way. Humility is an often-understated characteristic but if you approach this new chapter in such a way you are sure to leave a good impression and be welcomed by your peers. If you are at all struggling to tap into that humility, Michael Watkins also offers an analogy that certainly helps make anyone humble in these situations.

CSG Talent consultants are here to help you during this time, we want to see you thrive in your new role and our time together doesn’t end once you start the job. We are here to support you and offer any advice to help you excel in your new role. In fact, we pride ourselves on building long term relationships with our candidates, many of whom have developed in their roles and often become clients too.

Please reach out for a private and confidential conversation at any time. We want to see you succeed and make a positive impact in your new business. To find out more insights that can help you and your career visit: