The First 90 Days Can Make or Break You

Whether you’re launching a new business, transitioning to a new role or embarking on a new career, the first 90 days are crucial in setting yourself up for success.

When I joined the leadership team at MTV and People en Español, the onboarding process included reading The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter by Michael D. Watkins.  A career coach helped me develop the framework for a 30-60-90-day plan.  Each month, my plan listed my key areas of focus as well as ways to track progress and measure success.

1st Month:  Become a Sponge  

I know that it’s tempting to dive right into your new role and start doing things.  However, patience, listening, and understanding are crucial traits during your first month. Learning about the business, your role, employees, the company culture, customers, and processes is imperative to prepare for success.

To determine my learning goals, I asked myself, what knowledge and skills do I need to know to succeed?”

Here are some of the goals that I established for myself in my new role:

  • Start your day reading articles, reports, documents about our business and the competition
  • Learn the sales pitch from the best performers
  • Grab coffee with every employee to get to know them personally and professionally
  • Hold exploratory calls or meetings with existing and potential customers
  • Familiarize yourself with existing systems, processes and procedures and evaluate them

By Day 31, I had a clear assessment of the business, people and processes in place.  What is working? What might need to change? And, what could be eliminated altogether?

2nd Month:  Develop and Test Your Plan

Now it’s time to start making an impact by sharing your findings and creating goals based on what you’ve learned.  However, this doesn’t mean that you’ve stopped learning!

You should set small, quantifiable weekly goals based on findings made during your first 30 days.  You should begin to establish priorities, develop a roadmap, and determine what actions need to be taken to achieve the goals established.

Here are some sample questions and goals I set for myself and my team during the 2nd month:

  • Share early assessments and ideas with your team
  • Conduct brainstorming sessions to identify opportunities for growth
  • Provide one-on-one feedback to employees. Do we have the right people in place?
  • Develop expectations and establish priorities for the company and staff
  • Make suggestions on how to improve processes
  • Identify top prospects from your exploratory calls, pitch, and win at least one new client

By the end of the 2nd month, you should have secured some tangible results or, as Michael calls them, “early wins” to gain the trust, credibility, and support of employees and customers.

3rd Month:  Share and Implement Plans

The time has come to take the lead, set the strategy for your company and socialize your plans.  It is also time to start holding people accountable for the goals set!  Communication is key during this phase and moving forward.

  • Make sure that everyone understands the company’s vision, plan, and key priorities
  • Clearly define your expectations from everyone and gain their alignment and support
  • Establish necessary processes to achieve goals
  • Share metrics (how you will measure progress) and results
  • Address issues or problems as they come up and provide solutions

The final 30 days set the pace for the remainder of your first and years to come!  Ongoing communication, sharing updates and results and celebrating achievements are crucial to keeping employees informed, engaged and aligned with your business goals.


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