The first 100 days
They say the first 100 days in a new role are the most critical. It’s a term most commonly used for politicians – what will they do, say, deliver? It started with Roosevelt, who achieved much during his first 100 days, it became a barometer for the success of future presidents. Think back to Obama’s inauguration and the pressure to deliver was relentless.
It’s also a common measure for people starting in a new role. And it’s not unusual for businesses to ask a candidate at advanced interview stages to prepare and present what they’d do in their first 100 days.
So, what do you do?
Well, whilst it’s all down to personal preference, the role, and business circumstances, there are some common things ‘to do’ that we see that are widely regarded as beneficial. We talk to candidates after they’ve started and dig into what they’re doing, and how things are going. Where are they achieving success, and how have they gone about it?
Here are our thoughts on how to navigate through those first 3 months, and make an impact.
You have your start date, first-day arrangements and hopefully, your line manager and the team have been in touch during your notice period. But it’s up to you to also make contacts and start to establish yourself before you walk through the door on day 1. Connect with your team, peers, and leaders within the business before you start. If you’re invited to visit to meet the team, have lunch, take it! Making contact early will also prepare them for your arrival and be a supporter of your appointment from the early stages.
Make time to answer any questions they might have of you and ask questions of them. This is a golden opportunity to prepare for any upcoming projects or business changes. It’s also a great psychological way of feeling that you’re almost there which can also be helpful if you have a longer notice period.
Understanding what the expectations are of you is crucial. Get this wrong and you probably won’t be around for long. Spend time with your boss, peers, and others in the business – it’s not just about KPIs, it’s also about upholding the values of the business and fitting in. Chances are, if the recruitment process has been thorough, these shouldn’t be areas that are challenging, just more affirmation of what you already know and believe yourself.
Think about what you’re going to say about yourself. Sounds obvious, but you’ll have a lot of intros so making sure you’ve got a concise patter to let people know who you are, what you do, and where you’ve come from will make sure you give a good first impression.
Listen hard during these first few months. Avoid making judgements and coming to conclusions quickly. There are a lot of things that will have happened in the business or team in the past that you won’t know about, and people react differently to new ideas, team members, and change. Give people a chance, as you’ll want them to for you.
According to Paul Wolfe, former SVP at Indeed, writing for Forbes in 2021, “When something is done a certain way, don’t judge. Instead, ask questions to seek understanding. Don’t assume it’s wrong. I find that with new hires, ‘you shouldn’t do it that way’ turns people off. Become part of the team. Respect the work that’s been done to get them there.”
Try to find some quick wins. Adding value early gives people a great first impression, affords you their time and their ears, and generates goodwill that will ultimately play out as you develop in your role. Many people we’ve spoken to have done just this. From a Factory General Manager who found gaps in financial reports that highlighted big savings, to a Health & Safety Manager who implemented so much change in his first 3 months, his ideas were adopted worldwide to great acclaim.
Thinking longer-term will also cement you more in the business, and people will take you seriously. According to Forbes, ‘You don’t need a team to lead. In the first 30 days keep an eye out for opportunities to lead without yet acting on them. In general, employees who show leadership are more likely to be promoted and less likely to be let go.’
And imagining yourself there long-term is good for the soul. We speak to candidates who’ve found themselves having taken the wrong role. It’s uncomfortable and can be painful, and we can spot those who are running for the door. Candidates who have found their place speak differently. They have the mindset to be able to evaluate correctly where they are, where they want to be, and the best path to take.
And did you make it?
Wolfe states that during the first 100 days, you should have made 2 significant wins. They could be from the plan you created early on, or it could be achieving specific goals or objectives that you’ve been set. Many businesses are now putting in place key milestones for new team members to ensure both parties have met each other’s expectations (remember, it goes both ways), and it’s not uncommon for probation, or a salary rise, to be hinged on certain achievements.
Reflecting on the first 100 days can be insightful, and should certainly set you up well for the next hundred, and the next…