Your first 90 days on the job

Career Coaching

You did it! You landed the job! You are on your way to success, a new form of productivity, and making an impact in what you do. You have to make sure that within the first 90 days you take a head-down approach, focusing deeply on what your role is, what your department owns, and what your company needs. You may be sitting there asking: why 90 days? In the business world, quarterly progress is how everything functions. Your first 90 days do not always align with the company’s fiscal and productivity quarter, but that is how they will judge your ability to produce what they need. The first 90 days is where the opinions of you and your abilities are formed by not only your boss, but your colleagues. 

More than that, the first 90 days is where you start to understand truly what the company drives towards, and the politics involved. When I say politics, I mean the use of power and social networking within the workplace to achieve changes that benefit the organization or individuals within it. I know, we all hate politics, but no matter where you work, you are going to experience them in one form or another. You also start to understand the company’s hierarchy, who you know you can go to with challenges (and those you do not feel comfortable going to), and how your colleagues and higher-ups handle conflict, pressure, and day-to-day operations . You will learn which of your colleagues are complacent, those who are “favorites,” those who have your back, and those who feel as though they’re in competition with you.

With all of this being said, it’s important that during your first 90 days you make a great impression, act like a sponge, and go the extra mile. 

Know who and what you work for 

During the first 90 days on the job, the most important thing for you to do is not only understand what your role is, but what your company does. What is their mission? What are their products and/or services? How does the organization come together to accomplish its goals?

Within the first few weeks, show initiative and try to understand your role within the company, and the company’s role within the industry. So often within the first 90 days, as new employees, we focus on the little details of our personal jobs, and often lose sight of the company’s mission. 

Here are some easy tips on how to get up to speed on the company’s big picture…because it matters: 

  • Read all of the documentation the company provides you…every line. On top of that, make sure you read the company’s website in its entirety to understand not only the company, but how they want to be perceived by their customers, employees, investors, and competition.
  • Figure out who the company’s main customer base is comprised of. Are they individuals? Are they other corporations? Are they a specific type of organization (are they mainly non-profits or for-profit companies)? Imagine the impact you can make in your role if you know who you serve. Knowing your audience has proven to be an invaluable trait when coming into a new professional role.
  • Make sure you understand the products and services that the company provides. My company, CoreAxis is more than just an L&D solutions organization, we also provide staff augmentation. Many companies provide more than what’s at surface level or what they’re mainly known for. 
  • Ask your colleagues and manager about the company after you’ve done your research. Have them fill in your knowledge gaps. This is also a great opportunity to show your manager that you’ve taken the initiative to understand why your role matters to the company. 

Make a point to become part of the team

Embrace the team you are joining and try to build trust based on your professional demeanor, personality, and work ethic. Though this may seem like a no-brainer, so many new hires focus on their own onboarding and struggles that they forget that they are one piece to the puzzle. Putting in the effort to become an accepted member of your team starts with solid rapport to build upon. Start by making sure you know everyone’s name – it’s not as easy as it seems, but it will go a long way. Then, take the time to understand their roles to fully understand how your own role plays into everyone else’s’ on the team. Once again, understanding the big picture. 

I am not saying become best friends with your coworkers – in fact, I advise to follow with caution. There are a lot of different opinions about this. I have one employee who eight months after her start date for her first job out of college moved in with the two other women who started at the same time and still to this day, they maintain great friendships. They never once had work-life balance issues or arguments that leaked into the office. I also know of a handful of people who have burned themselves trying to be close friends with their coworkers, all for it to come back and bite them in the ass. 

Build a strong foundation but maintain boundaries and professionalism with these relationships. 

Become independent, fast 

Within the first few weeks on the job, everything is a blur; the people you work with, the office, the communication channels, the ticketing systems, etc., which can be overwhelming. However, make sure you spend as much time learning about what you do, so your manager and colleagues do not feel burdened by having to “hold your hand” for too long. As a manager, I don’t mind helping someone who truly needs it, especially when they first start. But, if I receive the same question five times from the same person within a relatively short period of time, I start to question their competency. 

Within the first month, ask all your questions – ask them three times – ask them to multiple people. But don’t become reliant on others to remember this information for you. Keep a notebook on hand or a Note open on your phone/computer to track these items. Absorb what you can but be realistic about it. When you’re hired for a role, they chose you because they felt as though you can take the job on yourself – so prove it. Relying on others is going to not only weigh your manager and colleagues down, but it’ll also weigh you down and most likely stunt your opportunity for growth. 

There is nothing more impressive in a new hire than one who can pull their own weight. 

Solicit feedback

I cannot emphasize this enough – ask for feedback. And when you receive feedback, drop your defenses. If you have asked your manager how you are doing in the new role, an effective manager/mentor will give you honest feedback. You may not like what they’re saying, but it will help you grow. 

When you ask for feedback, you’re showing three things: 

  1. You care about your progress in your role. 
  2. You care about how your deliverables/roles affect the team/company. 
  3. You want to do your best and grow. 

Many companies have a feedback system in place, which is scheduled either quarterly, bi-annually, or annually, but that doesn’t mean that is the only time to solicit feedback. Be proactive and ask how you’re doing. The worst thing that can happen is that they tell you need to improve – but don’t we all? Reaching out shows your willingness to learn and improve. 

Give your two cents

Within the first 90 days, you are the fresh set of eyes on the organization, how things are run, and outcomes. This can bring about the great opportunity to recommend solutions for improvement. A fresh perspective is beneficial and ultimately can help with long-standing problems your team or the organization may have. 

For example, if you see an opportunity to streamline a process, which would ultimately result in time and money saved, aligned with happier employees leading towards retention, speak up! Once again, what’s the worst that could happen if you approach it respectfully? They say no. That’s okay – at least you spoke up, showed your manager you are paying attention and want to improve the department/organization, and also show them you have a backbone and can take rejection gracefully. 

I would prefer my employees speak up to me about issues that they see or have. Even if I do not agree with them, I never knock them for thinking outside the box or speaking up. 99% of the time, the changes suggested come from a good place where my employees are seeking improvement not only for themselves, but for their colleagues and our customers. As a manager, it’s important to see outside of yourself, and when an employee comes to me with their two cents, I listen and am always open to discussing solutions. 

Your first 90 days can be difficult and exhausting, but once you get through them, as long as you’ve used your time wisely, you will come out with a ton of knowledge. That knowledge leads to confidence, which can help you steadily grow into the position you desire. Take my advice, put in the extra effort and you will see fantastic results.