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Starting a New Job? Your 100 Day Plan for Success

Sep 30, 2021

What’s the first thing you do when starting a new job?  Do you bring in boxes from home?  Raid the supply cabinet?  Chat with your neighbor in the next office or cubicle?  Figure out where to find coffee and lunch? Whenever I started a new job, I would create an action plan with goals to get me started. Yes, absolutely geeky.  I also get excited about New Year resolutions and see Labor Day as a chance to sprint before year end to meet those New Year resolutions.  I love planning.  Stay with me here.  At the last corporate job I interviewed for, the hiring manager asked me to put together a project plan for a major project they needed done.  This was part of the interviewing process. This is not unusual.  (Yes, I got the job!)

Regardless of how long you’ve been working in an industry or how excellent you are at your job, there will always be a few differences when you start a new position. The people are new, the culture will likely be somewhat different, and your new routine will take some getting used to. Creating a plan of action can reduce stress, help you feel confident and help you stay focused.

A plan is not just for geeks.  Many companies do not have formal onboarding plans, and if they do, they are generic - not designed for your success.  A plan lays the foundation for achievements down the road.   The main focus of your 100-day plan should be setting goals related to building workplace relationships, increasing your productivity, getting comfortable and becoming a successful employee.

In the first 30 days, be a sponge. Observe and learn.  Get to know the company culture and the people.  Learn as much as you can about your new employer -- how things are organized, who does what and learn the jargon that’s used.

Set up a weekly 1x1 with your manager.  Understand their expectations.  What does success look like a year from now?  What is the short term (3 months) expectation? Schedule weekly status meetings with your boss, even if just for 20 minutes.  Be prepared for those meetings.

  1. Learn the company policies:  Travel, expenses, holidays, taking time off.

  2. What are the systems and apps used?  How are documents shared?  What is used for communication?  Is there an application used across the company or by your team?  Learn it quickly. 

  3. Make a buddy.  Some companies will have a “go to” person that works with you.  Your buddy can help give you the inside scoop on how things work at the company.  

  4. Begin to know the acronyms used and company jargon.  Write them down!

  5. Introduce yourself.  Help the company get to know you.

  6. Understand the company’s vision and your team’s existing strategy.

Build relationships with key stakeholders.  At least 50% of career success is tied to having good workplace relationships.  

  1. Commit to meeting as many people as possible in your first 30 days.  Those above your level, your peers, and those below your level.  Plan on setting up lots of short (20 minutes) introductory “get to know you” calls.  Virtual coffees are now quite common. 

  2. Put together a Stakeholder Map; write down all the stakeholders in your work.  Stakeholders means anyone who depends on you for their success, or who you depend on for your success. 

  3. Adapt your approach when working virtually.  You have to be more intentional about trying to arrange those random meetings and conversations that are crucial to building productive relationships and moving projects forward.

Avoid making judgements too quickly. Don’t try to change anything immediately.

  1. For everyone you meet, ask what does and doesn’t work in the organization and what they think needs to change and what doesn’t.  Ask questions to seek understanding.  Don’t assume it’s wrong.  Respect the work that’s been done to get them there.

  2. You will be expected to hit the ground running.  Slow  things down a bit for the first couple of months.  This will allow you to fully analyze what’s going on and get a really strong perception of the state of the business.

  3. Look for quick, easy wins in the first 30 days.  Add value in non-controversial ways. 

30 day Check In: At 30 days, aim to have clarity around your role and general expectations. Develop a regular cadence for check in discussions with your manager.  This is an opportunity to see how you are tracking and if your manager can provide more support or direction. 

In your second month, focus on goals related to contribution. This second month should include details about how to apply the knowledge you gained so far and start to contribute to the company mission.

  1. Ask to attend as many relevant meetings as possible and make contact with lots of people around the business.

  2. It is important to gain a strong and in depth understanding of office dynamics.

  3. Demonstrate your capacity by bringing in new ideas. Do not criticize.  (Do not say “this is how it worked in my previous company”!)

  4. Make your creativity, problem solving skills and your strategy thinking skills known.

60 day Check In: You should have enough experience-based data to correctly evaluate your team and processes.  You should also be well on your way to identify any gaps.  Make the role yours by providing feedback to the business about how it could change. You should be speaking up more at meetings. Take your time and avoid taking on too much too soon.  At the same time, do not underestimate yourself. Make it a practice to stay in touch with the needs of your stakeholders.

In your third month, be a Leader. The final part of your 100 day plan should consist of goals related to leadership and professional growth.  At this point you’re likely feeling truly in the thick of things.  

  1. Display how your actions will deliver results.

  2. Maybe you’ve delivered a few projects already, or perhaps you’ve spent most of your time observing and taking it all in.  Now is the time to deliver, showing the value you bring to the company.

  3. Stay close to your stakeholders.  What other teams are you working with closely?

  4. The behaviors you’ve been building over the past 90 days are preparing you for this moment where you take control of your professional and personal growth.

90 day Check in:  You understand the measures of success for your role and have clear expectations for the remainder of the performance year.  You’ve had a chance to get involved in some initial projects on your team and grow your network. Confirm the following:

  • You are clear in understanding how your role fits into the overall company strategy. 

  • You have a solid understanding of the annual strategy and how your team is adding to it.

  • You have shared some of the solutions you’ve considered so far.

By Day 100, achieve and promote at least two significant wins.  Achieving a couple of major milestones in the plan you shared with your boss is the minimum for you to be considered successful in your first 100 days.

Got questions?

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