Highlights- The First 90 Days: Chapter 1, Prepare Yourself

Michael Watkins

It’s a mistake to believe that you will be successful in your new job by continuing to do what you did in your previous job, only more so.

Preparing yourself means letting go of the past and embracing the imperatives of the new situation to give yourself a running start.

Getting Promoted

You must figure out what it takes to be excellent in the new role, how to exceed the expectations of those who promoted you, and how to position yourself for still greater things.

Balance Between Breadth and Depth

You also need to learn to strike the right between keeping the wide view and drilling down into the details.

Rethink What You Delegate

… the keys to effective delegation remain much the same; you build a team of competent people whom you trust, you establish goals and metrics and monitor their progress, you translate higher-level goals into specific responsibilities for your direct reports, and you reinforce them through the process.

When you get promoted, however, what you delegate usually needs to change… it may make sense to delegate specific tasks… your focus may shift from tasks to projects and processes… entire businesses.

Influence Differently

… the decision-making game becomes much more bruising and politically charged the higher up you go. It’s critical, then, for you to become more effective at building and sustaining alliances.

Communicate More Formally

Establish new communication channels to stay connected with what is happening where the action is… all without undermining the integrity of the chain of command.

Your direct reports play a greater role in communicating your vision and ensuring the spread of critical information.

Exhibit the Right Presence

What does a leader look like at your new level in the hierarchy? How does he act? What kind of personal leadership brand do you want to have in the new role? How will you make it your own?

Four Pillars of Effective Onboarding

Business Orientation

Getting oriented to the business means learning about the company as a whole and not only your specific parts of the business. It’s beneficial to learn about the brands and products you will be supporting, whether or not you’re directly involved in sales and marketing.

Stakeholder Connection

It’s also essential to develop the right relationship wiring as soon as possible. This means identifying key stakeholders and building productive working relationships. Remember: you don’t want to be meeting your neighbors for the first time in the middle of the night when your house is burning down.

Expectations Alignment

Check and recheck expectations.

Cultural Adaptation

Think of yourself as an anthropologist sent to study a newly discovered civilization.

Identifying Cultural Norms

Influence

How do people get support? Is it more important to have support of a patron within the senior team or affirmation from peers and direct reports?

Meetings

Are meetings filled with dialogue on hard issues or are they simply forums for publicly ratifying agreements that have been reached in private?

Execution

Which matters more- a deep understanding of processes or knowing the right people?

Conflict

Can people talk openly about difficult issues without fear or retribution?

Recognition

Does the company promote stars or does it encourage team players?

Ends Versus Means

Are there any restrictions on how you achieve results? Does the organization have a well-defined, well-communicated set of values that is reinforced through positive and negative incentives?

Preparing Yourself

Take time to celebrate your move, even informally, with family and friends. Touch base with your informal advisers and counselors and to ask for advice.

Assess Your Vulnerabilities

One way to pinpoint your vulnerabilities is to assess the kinds of problems toward which you naturally gravitate.

Watch Out for Your Strengths

“To a person with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Relearn How to Learn

New challenges and associated fears of incompetence can set up a vicious cycle of denial and defensiveness. Put bluntly, you can decide to learn and adapt, or you can become brittle and fail.

Relearning how to learn can be stressful… if you embrace the need to learn, you can surmount them.

Get Some Help

Engage with HR and your new boss about creating a 90-day transition plan. Ask for help in identifying and connecting with key stakeholders or finding a cultural interpreter.

Closing the Loop

You have to work constantly to ensure that you’re engaging with the real challenges of your new position and not retreating to your comfort zone.

Highlights- The First 90 Days: Introduction

Michael Watkins

The actions you take during your first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail.

“Success or failure during the first few months is a strong predictor of overall success or failure in the job.”

If you’re successful in building credibility and securing early wins, the momentum likely will propel you through the rest of your tenure.

The most dangerous transition can be the one you don’t recognize is happening.

Leaders also are impacted by the transitions of many others around them.

Your goal in every transition is to get as rapidly as possible to the break-even point. This is the point at which you have contributed as much value to your new organization as you have consumed from it.

The goal is the same: to get there as quickly as possible.

Avoiding Transition Traps

  • Sticking with what you know
  • Falling prey to the “action imperative”
  • Setting unrealistic expectations
  • Attempting to do too much
  • Coming in with “the” answer
  • Engaging in the wrong type of learning
  • Neglecting horizontal relationships

Understanding the Fundamental Principles

  • Prepare yourself
  • Accelerate learning
  • Match your strategy to the situation
  • Secure early wins
  • Negotiate success
  • Achieve alignment
  • Build your team
  • Create coalitions
  • Keep your balance
  • Accelerate everyone

Mapping Out Your First 90 Days

Your transition begins the moment you learn you are being considered for a new job.

Use the 90-day period as a planning horizon.

Start planning what you hope to accomplish by specific milestones.

Begin by thinking about your first day in the new job. What do you want to do by the end of that day? Then move to the first week. Then focus on the end of the first month, the second month, and finally the three-month mark.

Hitting the Ground Running

Every new leader needs to quickly become familiar with the new organization, secure early wins, and build supportive coalitions.

Vetforce – Starting Out

Today I started Vetforce. It’s basically Trailhead for veterans. What is Trailhead? It’s a training platform by Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM. Simply put, a whole lot of companies use Salesforce and they need qualified people who knows their way around the platform.

Hence, I’m basically doing it because upon completion of certain Vetforce goals, Salesforce offers free exam preparation classes and also exam vouchers for those who wants official certification. These can add up to $4,500 so it’s a very good deal.

On-boarding

Starting out is not an easy process. It got confusing. The best advice I can give to anybody thinking about either Vetforce or Trailhead is to have somebody IRL show you around and explain things to you. If nobody’s around (just like in my case), then the next best thing would be to explore, explore, and explore until you get the hang of it.

Pro tip: Concentrate on completing modules that are part of an official Vetforce Trailmix. Always make sure the name of the Trailmix is in the “Vetforce: NAME OF GOAL HERE” format. It shall also say “Trailmix – Team Vetforce” in the header to ensure you get credit for all your hard work.

My Roadmap

Milestones:

  1. Sign up for Vetforce. DONE
  2. Complete Vetforce: Salesforce Certified Administrator DONE
  3. Blast through Vetforce: Business Analyst DONE
  4. Finish all Vetforce: Salesforce Platform App Builder
  5. Detour to Become an AI Trailblazer
  6. Come full circle and pass the Salesforce Administrator Certification.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for ways to become more marketable, consider the Salesforce platform. For veterans, register at Vetforce pronto! If you’re not, go straight to Trailhead and work on them superbadges!

Until next time, peace out!

Job Search

I was on the road and got stuck in the middle of a storm. I pulled over and decided to wait it out until the road conditions got better. While I was waiting, I was thinking about my job search strategy.

I realized that I was doing way too much busy work and not enough substance. There’s a lot of job postings out there and after a while, they all start to look the same.

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to be “more intentional” and go deep. I’m going to spend a lot more time researching the company, their product/services, and culture. This time around, I shall optimize for quality rather than quantity.

Impostor syndrome abound, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”