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  • Amii Barnard-Bahn

I got the job! Now what do I do?


According to a recent PBS poll, more than one-third of Americans have changed jobs in the last two years — and 60% of those working received raises. That’s incredible.


So for those of you in a new role, I’m sharing some pointers that may be helpful for your first 90 days:

  • Listen to and spend time with each of your stakeholders (people who are key to your success). Research the “as is” state of your team and function, and what others think about it. A first step in this direction is to draft about 10 questions, and schedule 1:1 “get to know you” meetings with each stakeholder.

Start with a few personal icebreaker questions, and then include several to learn the culture and obtain feedback to help inform your strategy going forward. A few sample questions: What do you like best about your role? How would you describe the culture? What’s an unwritten company rule I should know about? What do you see as the key purpose of (my/our) team? What one shift would make working with my team easier? What personal qualities lead to success and recognition around here? You can go off script, but if you ask several people the same questions, you begin to derive common themes and a sense of the system you are operating in.

  • Craft a “(insert your name) 101” about you for your team, sharing a few key points about how you prefer to work, and how to most effectively work with you. Share this in your 1:1’s with your direct reports. Ask your boss and stakeholders for the same information and take note of how your working preferences differ or how you may need to adjust. It is much easier to discuss this subject and anticipate personality clashes before they occur.


  • Treat internal stakeholders as you would an external client. There are exceptions, but overall this mindset will serve you.


  • Stay in a learner mindset as long as reasonably possible prior to weighing in. Ask questions of others; tap into your natural curiosity to uncover information, opinions and priorities you may not be aware of that could inform your actions and uncover potential landmines.


  • Co-create team norms with your team in the next 90 days. Pick about five. For example, are meetings going to start right on time, or will there be a “soft” rolling start of a few minutes? What is the expectation of responding to email during the evenings or weekends? Is swearing acceptable? Should meetings be distraction-free (no IM or texting, etc.)?


Once you gain agreement, implement a simple system to hold each other accountable for the agreed-upon behaviors. It’s easy to do this — create a simple chart and hand it out every 6 weeks or so at the beginning of the team meeting. List the agreed-upon norms and have everyone rate on a 1-5 scale (5 being fantastic), on how the team is measuring up to its agreements. For low scoring items, discuss why the score may be low and whether the team is still committed to the norm.


These may seem like small stakes, but in my work with executive teams, good habits on basic behavior norms directly correlates to the big stuff — like trust, productive conflict, and accountability, all of which impact results.


You have a window of opportunity in your first 90 days to establish yourself and your reputation. At about six months, the window begins to close and opinions start to solidify (they can be changed, but it’s harder — some observers think it takes two years of active work to change a negative impression).


Connect and establish good habits and a strong foundation for your relationships with your boss, your peers, and your team.


You’ve got this.


To Your Success,

Amii

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