April 16, 2019

Your first 90 days as a manager: A roadmap

So you’ve just become a manager. Congratulations! Amidst all the well-wishes from your team and your friends, there may be one question nagging you in the back of your mind: Now what?

You have new responsibilities, new goals, and new direct reports… so where do you begin? In this post, we break down the things you need to do in your first 90 days.

Day 1: Set the stage

Recognize that this is a new job. Being an all-star individual contributor doesn’t mean you’ll be a natural manager. In fact, while your skills in your previous role may continue to come in handy, they’re an entirely different skillset from the one you’ll need to develop as a manager.

Start asking for feedback. It’s never too early to start gathering feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. Rather than overwhelming your new direct reports with requests for feedback, start by seeking it from a mentor or other experienced manager who may have insight into what you’ll want to focus on.

Set time to get to know your team. Even if you’re already well-acquainted with the folks you’re now managing, you may not know them on the level you’ll now need to. Show your commitment to a positive working relationship by scheduling 1:1s right out of the gate. Use that time to listen and learn about their goals, motivators, and working styles.

Month 1: Hit the ground running

Understand your resources. Remember, your company wouldn’t have promoted you if they weren’t invested in your success. Your managers are here to support you! Ask around to learn what’s available from your company that can help develop in your new role. Things to ask about include performance management, leadership development, and a professional development budget.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses. During your first two weeks, actively spend time identifying where you need to grow. Be honest with yourself!

  • Delegation. Choose a delegated task to use as “practice.” Seek feedback on how you communicated, and iterate on your approach.
  • Communication. Identify a coworker with whom you often struggle to communicate, and try a new strategy. Assess what, if anything, changed.
  • Emotional intelligence. Spend a week thoughtfully observing how you react in your work environment: to people, to stress, to conflict. You’ll quickly learn what situations lead you to react in a way you’d like to change. Plus, you’ll be training your own self-awareness so that it eventually comes naturally.

Month 2: Time to learn

Get to know yourself. On your continued quest to understand yourself as a leader, consider a personality test (and ask your direct reports to take it as well). It’s also important to set personal goals and make time to reflect on your progress toward them. In this way, you’ll know where you are and where you’re headed.

Do your homework. Soak in content on management: online courses, books, articles, podcasts. Harvard Business Review is the gold standard and a great place to start. We also recommend the book Crucial Conversations, which is relevant to managers and individual contributors alike—both at work and outside of it.

Month 3: Make your mark

Don’t fix what isn’t broken. It’s tempting to put your own stamp on your team’s every process. Resist “fixing” processes and policies that are perfectly fine, and focus on the ones that really need an overhaul. For example, look for and eliminate bottlenecks, redundancies, and “work about work.”

Swing for a home run. 90 days is a great timeline to strive for your first big win. Is there a goal your team wasn’t able to hit before you came on? Is there an idea for a product or process that your leadership can bring to fruition? Early wins boost morale and send a message that promoting you was the right move.

Relax. If your first day as a new manager was a Monday, your 90th day will be a Saturday. Enjoy your weekend; you’ve earned it and can come back Monday energized to tackle new challenges.

Your first 90 days as a manager will be a time of accelerated growth and learning. You may even make a few mistakes along the way, and that’s okay. Take a deep breath—you’re ready

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