Advice for First 90 Days On the Job

Last year I asked my friends via Facebook “What is the best advice you’ve received about first 90 days at a new job?” and I got some really valuable feedback. Since then I have referenced the thread to multiple friends as they switched careers, so I’ve decided to publish a post on this topic and hope it will be helpful to others.

My personal advice for the first 90 days would be:

  1. Network! Set up 1:1's with as many people as you can. Identify folks you want to work with and learn from, esp. ones you normally would not have a chance to interact with. “Hi, I’m new here.” was a great excuse for me to meet folks across different functions and learn their perspectives.
  2. Understand the big picture. Where is the company going and how do I fit into that overall vision? As a PM, I found that understanding the company’s vision and how my product can help achieve that vision makes me excited about going to work everyday, and I perform the best when I’m genuinely excited about my job. Also, the ability to communicate this to others is critical in motivating team members to make progress toward the same vision.
  3. Make an impact. There are some debate about the exact timing of this. Personally I think getting a win early will help establish you at the workplace and gain some much needed credibility. That said, the “win” needs to be meaningful, and bring real value to the organization.

Looking back, I haven’t exactly followed my own advice as the first 90 days are unpredictable and overwhelming. However, perhaps it’s not too late for me to try to integrate some of the ideas back to my daily routine. Reading these once in a while serve as a good reminder that we should always face our job with the same enthusiasm and thoughtfulness as we did in the first 90 days.

And finally, here are some of the wonderful advice I received. Thank you guys!

LL: “Spend the first 2–3 weeks setting up 1:1s with people you’ll work with closely. People really appreciate you taking the time to meet with them.”

PC: “Figure out what expectations and goals are. Find mentors & be in learning mode & meet 2–3 senior people that your boss works with.”

PA: “Find a low hanging fruit and make a quick impact.”

MC: “Bringing donuts to work. =) Honestly, help write your own onboarding plan — near term goals, people to meet 1:1, documents to read, systems to learn. Execute it and provide transparency to your manager and peers on how it’s going. Be transparent with areas that don’t make sense to you, ask for help when you need it, and don’t try to optimize for initial perceptions.

People try to optimize for “fast impact” which usually just means you make a stupid decision in the first few months … take your time, learn the systems and people, learn the rationale for past decisions, and start to create influence and impact gracefully once you understand the space.

GL: “Ramp up fast, produce high quality results, and understand the bigger picture with how your part fits in it.”

SC: “Absorb with good understanding.”

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