🏔 The First 90 Days
Oct 13, 2021 • 4 min • Career
It's been awhile! I've been traveling a lot and had a short, semi-brutal stint with COVID-19 but I'm happy to be writing again. This topic is timely for a few reasons. For me, it's been a little over a month since I started a new job as a PM at Metabase. For others, we are apparently in the Great Attrition right now, as tons of people are moving from job to job.
The market is boomin' to say the least, but back to the matter at hand. These are some of the resources and ideas that I found particularly helpful for your first 90 days in a new role.
The First 30-60-90 Days
The framework that I see repeated most often involves breaking things down by the first 30-60-90 days in a new role. While these numbers are mostly arbitrary, I tend to like thinking about things this way. With each period comes new challenges and focus areas.
There are two things to get right early on: Learning and building trust. I find that these are closely related — Team members begin to trust you more when you display you know what you're doing, which only comes from learning the ropes. That means you should have a few priorities:
- Understand the business and product: Read all the prior art you can find. Talk to team members. Talk to customers. Ask lots and lots of questions. Go on a listening tour.
- Build relationships with team members: Schedule 1-on-1s with the people that you'll be working with on a daily or weekly basis. Get to know them and ask for advice.
- Form a view on the state of things: Once you understand the business and have talked to a bunch of people, you're in a good place to form an unbiased view on the state of the union. Put together a document with your learnings and share it with the team.
"Time to ship" is largely role-dependent but you should aim to begin and finalize your first big project around this time. You should also be getting into a rhythm with your team and processes. Specifically if you're in a PM or management role, look for ways to improve execution:
- Are people aligned around the same goals?
- Are their unnecessary meetings or processes wasting time?
- Are blockers being addressed quickly?
- Is everyone on the same page about deadlines?
Now you're in the full swing of things! It's full-execution time. Make sure you and your team are working on the right priorities. Make sure things are humming along nicely. Make sure you're making an impact and shipping customer-facing value. You know, all the stuff you signed up for, but now you're fully prepared to get after it.
I mentioned before that you should go on a "listening tour" during your first 30 days. While this is just a fancy way of saying "Talk to a bunch of people and ask questions," if you take one thing away from this post, I hope it's this.
Different folks have different templates for these conversations as seen in previous posts from Deb Liu and Boz on the subject. Schedule 30 minutes for each conversation. Send over an agenda in advance and ask attendees to jot down some thoughts if they have time. I found this to work well for me:
- What is working well?
- What isn't working well?
- What should we do that we aren't doing today?
There's lots of great advice out there that has helped me out in the past getting started at new roles. It really does feel like a skill that you get better at over time. These are my favorite reads that you should check out if you enjoyed this:
- A Career Cold Start Algorithm
- Make the First 90 Days Count
- Lenny's Newsletter
- The First 90 Days Book Summary
- Exec 101 - First 30 days
- A Guide for Onboarding into a New Role
- Listening Tours and Creating Truth
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