Jumpstart Your First 90 Days at Your New Job

Karen* happened into her new job through her son’s school. They needed someone to fill in temporarily, so she stepped up, and it turned into a real job. The problem was that right from the beginning, there were very few instructions and no one to advise her. Karen’s stress level shot up as she realized that it was a sink-or-swim situation. How was she to know whether she was doing what was expected? She began second-guessing her decision to accept the position.

The first three months of any job are critical to the success or failure of a new employee, yet Karen’s situation is not unusual. Have you ever wished you had a roadmap or coach to help you jumpstart your first 90 days at your new job? At Amtec, we’ve always encouraged our employers to use our Great Start tool, which spells out for a new employee specifically what to expect, where to get help, whom to follow, and how to succeed right away. (It’s based on the valuable content in Michael Watkins’ The First 90 Days, which we highly recommend any new employee read.) As a candidate, you may or may not have had the chance to ask, as author Jeff Haden recommends, “What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?” As an employee, you can use the Great Start questions to enlist your employer’s participation and get the guidance you need.

Of course, there are some basic principles that will increase your chance of success at any job. Bringing strong character and solid ethics to the table will always give you an edge–and the opposite is true as well. As the famed Guy Kawasaki puts it, being lazy, stupid, arrogant, and tacky is the best way to blow it! His advice for success in your first 90 days includes a lot of learning, listening, and asking questions rather than assuming you know it all up front. He also recommends “sucking up to the right people,” such as the receptionist, because they have more influence than you may think. But my favorite chunk of his advice is this:

Default to yes. When people at your company ask you to help, agree and do it. Pay your dues. Humble yourself. Your academics, work experience, and connections helped you get the job, but they don’t mean anything after your first week. At that point, you either produce or you don’t.

Everyone has to start somewhere. You can make your journey a lot easier if you give yourself a roadmap to follow, and if you take the advice of someone who’s been there and made it to the top. So if you’ve got a new job, introduce our Great Start questions to your employer, be open to learning, and put your good ethics to work. We wish you the best as you jumpstart your first 90 days at your new job!

*names and some details are changed to protect anonymity

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