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The First 90 Days As A Technology Leader In A New Role

Every individual that you know, yourself included, that has worked for a large company, companies with more than 500 employees and millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, knows that training to position yourself for success when starting a new job isn’t something that has always been stressed. In fact, until now I’ve never trained or read books or research on preparing myself to succeed in a new job.

How does it normally go with working a Corporate job??

You work a job for a while, perhaps get laid off or fired from a job, and then you start the job search process all over again. You begin searching for a new job, you interview, you get hired, and then you go in with your best intentions, knowledge, and experience with little to no guidance even from the person that hired you. You’re unfamiliar with the organization, the processes, their technology, etc., but you’re still required to add value and meet certain expectations.

Every person that has worked for an organization of a considerable size will tell you that a lot of their experience and “know-how” was developed on the job, not from formal training.

Professional development and training that teaches you how to be successful working a full-time job isn’t something that has always existed, although there are many companies that specialize in that kind of training. These companies have been around for decades but not many people are aware that they exist, and many aren’t taking the initiative to go out and get trained to ensure their own career success.

With the advent of LinkedIn and organizations that have made a business out of career development and research, organizations like SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) and Korn Ferry, which is a Global Management Consulting firm that consults organizations on talent, training, and leadership, we now have a large body of work to reference when it comes to growing our careers not only in Technology, but across the Corporate spectrum.

One idea that isn’t talked about enough in helping bring structure and a roadmap that anyone can use to be successful when first starting a new role is the 90-day roadmap, or your first 90 days.

In one of the most widely acclaimed business books of the last decade, author Michael Watkins well researched and very popular book, “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Smarter and Faster”, speaks very specifically about the need for planning out on-the-job activities during your first 90 days on the job. As things change in a very interconnected and fast-moving global environment, it is critical that you understand how best to adapt into a new role where you’re unfamiliar with the environment and you have very little knowledge of the job that you were hired for.

If you think about it, let’s say you’re in your mid 20’s, you’ve gone to college, earned a degree, and you’ve applied for jobs and perhaps built a modest resume with a few jobs that you’ve worked since you’ve graduated. Or perhaps you are much more seasoned IT career professional perhaps older, and you’ve built a career based on experience.

Most people as they are earning their college degree have little to no exposure to career development strategies and coaching that gives them the actual tools, tips, and tactics to help them succeed in a new role. This is something that you have to seek out on your own or find training organizations that can teach you these kinds of skills.

The idea of your “first 90 days” is that you plan out, strategically and tactfully, what you need to do to set yourself up for success in your first 90 days and make an impact as a new leader.

What are some of the things you should consider when starting a new leadership role? Below are three examples:

  1. Building relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders in the organization
  2. Getting up to speed quickly
  3. Assessing quick and early wins

Building relationships and partnerships with key stakeholders in the organization

When you first start a new role at any organization you should come in the door and make it your priority to understand the political landscape of your organization. Who are the people that you will be working with the most? What cross-functional partnerships are critical to you being successful in your role? What peers or direct reports “like” or “favor” you? Can you identify other leaders and executives that you can help deliver on their goals and objectives?

You will know who these people are as you begin to engage after your first day. Onboarding is essentially there to help you get acclimated to the organization, as compared to your “first 90 days”, the goal here is to plan out what can help you be succeed AFTER you’ve onboarded to a new role.

Strategically aligning yourself with others in the organization is one of the best ways to add value and to show leadership that you are aligned to the mission and ready to help the organization achieve their goals!

Getting up to speed quickly

Consider a role that you were just hired for where there is a project that is what we call “in-flight”, or in other words, already in progress. This project is critical to the organizations security and compliance posture and you were hired to come in and take the project over and see it through to completion.

In an example like this, you’re going to have to get up to speed very quickly. I’m using this example to explain a point, but most employers if they have a sharp and well organized hiring and onboarding practice they would have most likely identified a candidate that has the experience necessary to come in and get up to speed in a role such as this. Notwithstanding that, if your level of familiarity is lacking then getting up to speed quickly is where you would need to focus your attention.

Getting up to speed quickly just means that you have the knowledge, wit, and strategic thinking to know what information you need upfront in assessing priorities, what questions to ask to get critical information necessary to do your job, and who you should be asking these questions to. Your goal here is to accelerate your learning as much as possible so you can begin working on the other items in your 90-day plan.

Assessing quick wins early

One of the main reasons to identify what goals you can accomplish early and quickly is so you can demonstrate your ability to come in and quickly assess what needs to be done and where critical pain points exist. A quick win will most likely get you kudos from your direct supervisor, and we all know that Corporate America is about “show and tell”!

To give you an example of this, consider that you have a software application where there are issues with managing access to the application from users inside the company. A process for managing who can use the application and when does not exist and it’s causing a domino effect of other problems that, for whatever reason, are being ignored. This would be a good example of a quick win. Not only is this causing an issue for your department but it’s causing issues for the entire company. If you can come in and be the one that fixes the issue it will go over well for your reputation.

When you’re able to clean up problems quickly and add value in small increments that can give value, especially to other team members that help them do their jobs better, a quick and easy win like this can show your value to the organization early on.

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