Your First 90 Days on the Job

I wrote earlier about four critical things you must do when you start a new job (July 17 ‘13 post).

90-day-plan-300x206To recap:

1. Figure out who the key players are in your arena…and spend serious face time with them.

2. Determine how you will be evaluated.

3. Determine what the really important things are.

4. Be on the way to becoming a “Go To” person.

They are critical and should be your first priority…but there a few other very important things  you need to pay attention to during the critical “break-in” period….your first 90 days on the job.

1. Create a personal game plan…. and update it weekly. This personal game plan will be very short term initially… you can’t make plans for what you don’t know (yet). It is essentially a “To Do/To Follow Up On” list broken into groups – the groups being different direct reports (subordinates), different projects, different things you are waiting for something to come back your way for additional action, etc.

Although there are all sorts of online and smartphone/PC applications for such things, I have always preferred to keep this very simple – an 8 ½ x 11 lined pad with pages devoted to each “group”. Makes it easy to refer and write to it day and night. The top sheet is blank except for my name and tele # and a request to get it to me if found – it is really important to me… and while I have never lost one… that doesn’t mean I won’t someday <smile>!

Just label each page as to who/what it applies to…when full… go the next blank page. Number the pages by group.

Much of it will truly be “To Do/To Follow Up On” things.. but the reason I reference it as a “game plan” is that it will also have a series of personal objectives there as well. I use a few sheets at the very end of the pad to jot them down and update/revise as necessary.

By putting it all on one pad, it is easy to stay on top of your entire breadth of responsibilities…and it goes with your everywhere! And when it is full – don’t throw it away for a year or so… you might be surprised to see how often you go back and refer to it.

Finally – due to the nature of what you have recorded here – you need to safeguard it very carefully!!

2. Create a reference guide…and update it as frequently as daily. This is a continuing list of “stuff” you will refer to from time to time – such things as procedures, names , tele numbers and email addresses, driving directions, tax ID #s, important deadline dates for whatever  – you get the idea – the stuff you don’t want to have to look up or ask about a second time.

As of this writing, there is a neat pc program called “Evernote” that can really make life easier in this regard.   Install it on your PC and your smart phone.. and synch them. That way you can do data entry and retrieval from either. Of course names with tele numbers, addresses and email addresses go into whatever program your employer has set up – usually Outlook.

3. Get a grip on whatever numbers are important to your sphere of responsibility.

You gotta know the numbers. Sales, margins, costs, profits, percentages, ratios, benchmarks. Whatever is important to the objective of getting it done on time and on (or under!) budget.

Every business has ratios and relationships. For example a friend in the hotel business tells me that she staffs housekeepers based on 14. One housekeeper per 14 rooms to be cleaned. Every sales position has a ratio of contacts to presentations to closes. Find out which ratios are relevant to your job, your department, etc.

4. Determine who the external resources are and establish contact with them.

If your job requires you to deal with others external to your organization, make a point to determine who they are and make contact with them.  They might be customers or vendors. They may be outside resources such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, auditors, etc.

Talk to your boss to determine who they might be and be pro-active by reaching out to them. Introduce yourself and let them know they can count on your for whatever role has been the norm in the past.

OK… you now have some guidelines and marching orders for your first 90 days in your new job!

Feel free to post here for the benefit of others your thoughts and ideas you have found successful in this regard!! Thanks!!


Managing Change

The ability to manage change successfully is a skill to be valued. If you have managed change in your job or a previous job, be sure that appears  in your resume’s lead in “Summary of Experience and Accomplishments” and also in your cover letter. If you don’t have that experience, try to obtain it in your current position by asking to be included in whatever change issues are in process or anticipated. Major change doesn’t happen often, but small changes are part of everyday organizational life.

The following is a mini-book review of a new book by Barbara A. Trautlein, PH.D. entitled “Change Intelligence; Use the Power of CQ to Lead Change That Sticks”

The ability to handle constant change can mean the difference between organizational success and failure. Even though there are many tactics for managing change, the author cites research indicating a high failure rate for major organizational changes.

Change Intelligence book cover“We know a lot about organizational transformation…We’ve developed multiple models for leading change…We’ve conducted studies and found that positive change requires, among other things, a commitment from senior management, a ‘guiding coalition,’ and a ‘compelling vision.’ With all of this knowledge and all of these methodologies, why do 70% or more of major change initiatives fail? It’s not that any of these models or tools are wrong or useless – they are just incomplete. Successful transformation requires more than book knowledge and theory. To lead change, change leaders must know themselves.”

The author refers to CQ as “Change Intelligence” which she defines as the skill set required to lead a team or company through major change. ”You  can’t just tolerate change… you have to take charge of your career and your company and lead change.”

Adapted from a book review in Staffing Success, published by the American Staffing Association.

My Spin On Managing and Effecting Change

I think Trautlein got it right when she refers to the need for real leadership to effect major change.

From my personal experience the process of effecting change is two-fold:

The first part is a semi-democratic determination and planning process… the second part is autocratic implementation!

Part 1 – Determine why change is called for; what will the impact be of the change?;  what will be different as a result of the change?; what are the component steps for of this change?, etc.

An example is in order. An organization wants to centralize several administrative functions; the branch offices will no longer perform these administrative functions – rather they will be concentrated in a single central corporate office.

The steps to do this should be determined collaboratively… carefully and slowly. Lots of input from all – be sure everyone with a dog in the fight gets to weigh in on how this will impact them and their department. The individual decisions that come out of this process are determined almost democratically – a consensus is necessary on each to proceed. If it cannot be gained, then either there is not a need to be fulfilled or the need has not been thoroughly explored.

The point is that the different implementation steps to effect the change should be determined very collaboratively – virtually democratically. When this has been done… and each step to be taken has been documented and all parties have reviewed it… the person in charge… the leader…says “OK…anything else we need to decide? Have we covered all the bases? Speak now or forever hold your peace. Once we pull the trigger on this I need to approve any and all deviations from the plan.”

And then part 2 kicks in – the implementation of the change. And it needs to be done autocratically; no deviation from the plan without authorization. Why? Otherwise, people will pick and choose what parts of the plan they will ignore. In our example, a branch manager may want to continue to purchase office supplies from a favorite vendor rather than follow the plan that included centralized purchase of such things by the central corporate office.

If there is a flaw in the plan, it will surface pretty early in the process in which case a review of that aspect of the plan is called for.

In summary, organizational changes need to planned and determined democratically by all impacted and then implemented autocratically by the leader. Without a strong hand at the helm implementing, success will be hard to achieve.

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