Whether you’ve just been promoted or have recently been hired into a new role, getting started on the right foot can make a huge difference in your long-term success. Michael Watkins’ must-read book on onboarding, “The First 90 Days,” outlines every aspect of successfully transitioning to a new role.
Watkins covers ten essential components of onboarding in the book. While this review highlights my favorite five, do grab the book to check out the other items, too!
- Prepare Yourself
- Negotiate Success
- Achieve Alignment
- Build Your Team
- Accelerate Everyone
This chapter focuses on shifting your mindset to open up the way you think about everything from delegation, to communication, to adapting to a new culture. You’ll find tips on how to deal with greater complexity and ambiguity, tougher politics, and more scrutiny here. There’s even a tip sheet for how to identify cultural norms by asking yourself questions about how meetings, execution, recognition, and other things work.
This might be my favorite chapter in the whole book. Watkins advises “proactively engaging with your new boss” to ensure you have a clear path to success. The section on “Planning for Five Conversations” (situational diagnosis, expectations, resources, style, and personal development) stands out as a powerful way to address issues in a clear, organized, and intentional way.
Alignment, in this case, refers to how your piece of the pie relates to the whole. Organizational alignment, strategic alignment, and process alignment are covered here. While you may not have the opportunity to reorganize your organization in your first 90 days, identifying misalignments should be high on your list.
Watkins offers a great – and easily actionable – tip: reframe SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis as TOWS (threats, opportunities, weaknesses, strengths). This focuses on the external environment (threats and opportunities) first, and the internal capabilities (weaknesses, strengths), informed by the external, second.
While leadership and management skills are critical, influencing through alliances can make (or break) your team’s success. Taking the time to map out networks of influence for any areas or issues of concern will help you understand where you need to create relationships. And understanding who the opinion leaders are – with both supporting and opposing views – will help you navigate change initiatives more effectively.
By identifying where the biggest-impact transitions are happening throughout your organization, and supporting those transitions well, you’ll have a better shot at accelerating success for everyone. The great news is the techniques and concepts Watkins teaches throughout “The First 90 Days” can be applied at any level of the organization to achieve that acceleration.
Other topics included in the book are how to accelerate your learning, matching strategy to each situation, securing early wins, managing yourself, and building your team. See? You really do need to read, “The First 90 Days”!
What’s been your biggest “aha” you’ve had in your first 90 days integrating into a new role? Tell us in the comments below!