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The First 90 Days: Sink Or Swim-Your Call

The first 90 days in a new organization are like the opening act of a blockbuster movie – everyone's watching to see if you'll be the star of the show or just a fleeting cameo. For the Stars, the first 90 days are an opportunity to showcase why they made the best decision to hire you versus hiring the other guy or gal. It is an opportunity to show that one naysayer (the one who got outvoted on candidate B) that they should have followed the herd and cast their vote for you.

In this blog post, I'm spilling the beans on why acing your onboarding is not just a good idea but an absolute game-changer.  Before you get all skeptical, let me assure you that I've been there. I, too, have experienced the first 90 days and all the nerve-wracking angst that comes with it.  I remember it like yesterday, and it was yesterday that I decided today was the day to share my story of survival and triumph in the corporate jungle, where I went from a green newbie to a Rising Star in just 90 days.

1. The 90-Day Probation Period: Your Make-or-Break Moment

Back in the day, on my first day at a global firm, I was the embodiment of nerves. The prospect of navigating the intricate corporate landscape seemed like an Everest climb. I was young, green, and unsure if I had what it takes to make it in the big leagues. Little did I know that this uncertainty would fuel one of the most transformative journeys of my career.

2. The Curious Mind Syndrome: Everyone's Watching

Enter the curious mind syndrome – my colleagues' eyes were like searchlights, examining every move I made, wondering to themselves if I would be the person who took their promotion, the one who became their best friend, or the one who they wanted to be their next leader. Amidst this uncertainty, I knew that I wanted to be seen as the one they could see as their next leader or best friend. My first stroke of luck was finding a peer mentor. This peer mentor showed me the ropes and saw potential in me, not as a threat but as a future ally. It was a game-changer.

For individual contributors, a peer-mentor might look like a “designated survivor,” someone who knows all the shortcuts and is happy with their role but has something to prove in the “I am fit to be a leader” game. Find this person and make them an ally.

For leaders, it looks like finding the next “Rising Star,” a leader who has mastery of their team dynamics, understands the power players, has had a noticeable and recent win, and is willing to make you their next success story or protege.

3. Skills, Skills, Skills: Be the Office MVP

Fast forward a bit, and I had not one but two mentors by my side. The first was my peer mentor – someone who was not just smart but also unafraid to guide me. He opened the door to understanding the job intricacies and showed me the ropes without reservation. This wasn't a competitive race; it was a collaborative journey.

The second mentor, a senior leader passionate about nurturing young talent, became my guiding star. Their insights were invaluable, helping me secure a promotion within a year. The lesson here? Seek mentors who believe in your potential and are eager to help you unlock it.

Navigating the First 90 Days Like a Pro: The Playbook

Step 1: Understanding Cross-Functional Partners

Amid my uncertainty, I saw my colleagues not as potential adversaries but as characters in a shared narrative. I learned their stories, roles, and how our narratives could intertwine for mutual success.

For individual contributors, this looks like setting up brief one-on-ones to identify key priorities, setting a meeting cadence, and determining a way to track feedback.

For leaders, this looks like strategic planning, identifying short-term priorities, and facilitating alignment with your team. It is about identifying those bottlenecks and using your “outsider” knowledge to share ways for quick success. The goal is to build trust quickly.

Step 2: Manager Magic – Building Strong Communication

My manager became my compass in this vast new world. Communication was key – seeking feedback, aligning goals, and ensuring I was on the right path. The stronger the communication, the smoother the journey.

For leaders and contributors, consider your manager’s communication style. Assess their  “mission-critical priorities” and how success will be measured in your role. The goal is to create as much transparency and consistency as possible.

Step 3: Co-Functional Allies – Make the Dream Work

My colleagues weren't just faces in the crowd; they were potential allies and had secrets and shortcuts no one knew about. Understanding how our teams could work together towards a common goal was essential.  I was able to showcase my collaborative spirit and knack for accountability,  transforming peers into partners and building a network that would prove invaluable down the line.

Step 4: Be a Positive Disruptor

I wasn't afraid to disrupt the status quo. Armed with insights from my mentors, I proposed ideas, suggested improvements, and became the positive disruptor the team didn't know they needed. This disruption led to a significant improvement in results for a poor-performing team and was the catalyst for my first promotion and even my second one, all in less than 2 years. Without even knowing it, I was beginning to build the foundation of the perfect 90-day onboarding guide with tips for transforming 90 days into 180 days and beyond.

As you embark on your own 90-day journey, remember this: Success isn't just about surviving; it's about thriving. The above is just a summation of how to build early success; the real meat of it lives in my "90-Day Onboarding Guide"– your companion to navigating new and uncharted waters. It's not just a purchase; it's your secret weapon to turn uncertainty into triumph. Because, believe me, the first 90 days aren't just an introduction; they're your opening act to greatness. Ready to make it unforgettable? Let's do this!


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