Touchdown or Turnover?: Making the Most of the First 90 Days in your New Position

By Micki Lewis MS, PCC

What’s your game plan (strategy) as you kick off your new role?  

Seasoned or Rookie – how you establish yourself in your new role as a leader immediately after your manager (the referee) blows his whistle will speak volumes of how successful you may be seen and perceived in the future.

There’s been much research and advice lately on how setting up your first quarter (90 Days) as a leader can build or break you at your organization.  Even if you’ve been with the same company and are moving into a new role – the same can hold true.

Coaching  and working in this field for fourteen years, I’ve seen how those who have a plan, have the support of their organization and reach out to others vs. waiting have a much better Onboarding experience and quicker assimilation.

Those who have been more successful have these elements (and other) winner fundamentals in common:


  1. A Plan
  2. Organizational Support
  3. Ways to Overcome Challenges

1. A Plan

What’s your plan: do you have one?  It is wise to walk in with something more tangible then what is in your head!

This plan can be designed just for you or you can incorporate best practice scenarios.  Do your research and work with your leader to co-create one.  Hopefully, during your interviews you have uncovered the top strategic priorities and goals for the organization and for you in this role.  In an ideal world, your manager has already identified the top three focus areas s/he wants to see in the next three months, including milestones.  Conversations with key stakeholders to build crucial relationships for getting results need to be part of your plan.


Challenge: What will you do if your manager and/or their assistant does NOT arrange for meetings?  See answer below!


2. Organizational Support
For your onboarding process, identify the following people:

  • Introducer
  • Navigator
  • Mentor
  • Coach 


When a new person comes onboard, it is wise for the hiring manager to set up “meet and greets.”  Meet and greets are identified times your manager (if possible) plans formal introductions.  Ideally, your manager does the hand off, says a few words and then leaves the meeting.  This can be seen as a “passing of the baton,” approval, or even passing her/his credibility and trust to you.   It can mean s/he believes in you and your talents – what a great compliment!

NOTE:  Many managers have their executive assistant set up the appointments, which is nice, yet not as effective.  It’s much better if the manager sets it up: it will cut the time in half of your connecting to start building a relationship.


Who in this new team can help you “navigate” around colleagues, customers, leaders, assistants?  There may be a couple of them – formal and informal navigators.  Those who come out of the woodwork to let you know all the negative things going on – you know the busy body!  The ideal Navigator can help you go around speed bumps and guide you in the best direction without much judgment.  They want you to decide yourself – yet can be a good neighbor and share the better path to get there.


A Mentor is someone who has been in your shoes before.  Maybe not exactly, might be at the same level as you (peer) or a higher level.  Informal or formal – Is there anyone around (besides your manager) who fits the bill?  Check out others, ask who is a great manager and everyone wants to work with (and you can emulate?)  They are more of the advisors you go to when you have a problem and want to hear how they dealt with it. They may love talking about themselves, yet if they are an excellent mentor – they also coach! (Read below). Take them out to coffee or lunch – don’t waste their time!  Be ready with specific questions.

FYI: Those who are excellent wearing those shoes usually love to develop people (you) – it may be a great chance for you to learn hands-on.


Your Coach asks lots of questions. You may already be a goal-setter.  Coaches help you accelerate more quickly than if you do it yourself.  They listen intently, connect the dots, make observations and are non-judgmental.  They want the best for you!  Coaches are the ones who can support you as you maneuver through your new role getting the “kinks” out and make it a smoother ride! This person may be in your organization, or you may want some outside assistance.


 3. Overcoming Challenges

REACHING OUT VS. WAITING     (Proactive vs. reactive approach)???

As much as we have these “plans” and want to rely on others to help you – sometimes the support is not there.  If that is your case: start yourself!

Use all above ideas and reach out!  Depending on your manager, check if they are open to you moving forward on ANY of these items — sometimes they are not open.  Be sure to have your business case ready to share for the reasons each are important for your organizations/teams/personal success.  Pick the one that seems the easiest and start there.


Half Time – Check in point

Give yourself a timeline – say six weeks into your new job.  Are you where you think you needed to be regarding meeting people and managing your goals?  Have you met key stakeholders?  Do they understand how to leverage you and your talents so they can be more successful?  Have you found a mentor and a coach?  With your immediate manager – how can you help them to be more successful, give them more time, or take off something on their overstuffed work plate?  How will you provide them with less worry, less stress, remove the thing that keeps them up at night?

By creating this game plan, you are likely to win the game of your first 90 days!

(Note for super stars: treat each quarter like your first 90 days: have a plan and work the plan to the end zone over and over!)  For assistance, contact us for your own superstar coach!


Reference – Additional Reading

  1. Wikipedia:  Football Kick off:
  2. The First 90 Days – Michael D. Watkins  2003