Congratulations, you have survived possibly several rounds of interviews and have succeeded at getting a managerial job at a business. The first 90 days are usually critical as this is the probation period. Your performance will be under close scrutiny by your reporting manager.

The following are 11 tips to help you survive the first 90 days in a job as a manager:-

Research the business thoroughly

Now that you have completed the interview, you would have gained further insight into the operations of the business.

At the questions stage during the interview, a suitable question to ask the interviewer is what is the key challenges facing the business. The response to this question is a key golden nugget. You are aware of the biggest challenges facing the business which you can immediately improve upon.

Together with the information from the interview, review the company website, newspaper articles and social media pages to get an insight into the business.

LinkedIn is also a powerful tool that you can use to review the job profiles of persons who work at the organisation. You may be able to identify future direct reports.

From your research, you should have a preliminary understanding of the internal structure of business. This is even more critical when the role is overseas.

Kindly note that you could have made some assumptions which may be inaccurate. Tweak those once you have officially begun your role.

Map out the strengths of the business and areas for improvement

From the information that you have gathered plot from your vantage point what the strengths and areas of improvement are for the business.

Is the business strengths sales, marketing or customer service? Have a clear understanding of where this lies. Consider strategies to further improve the areas of strength.

When considering areas for improvement, review past interview notes as these are these could provide insight into the business strengths and weaknesses.

This is one fundamental reason why note taking during an interview is always critical.

Prepare a checklist

List your expectations of the business from all the research above. During the first week match these against your observations. This list really is a checklist of the summary of researched against the actual state of the operations.

This helps keep you focus on areas to strengthen during the first 90 days.

Meet your manager

Try to schedule a face to face meeting with your new manager during your first week. This is essential in instances where your new manager may be based in another location or in another country.

It is wonderful if you can connect especially in the first week to get clarity on the strategic priorities as well as complete assessment of the business.

Be sure to ask for key objectives. Get these in writing as well. At times a manager could be very busy and forget to present you with firm objectives for your role. You don’t want to receive get same the day of your probationary review.

Meet the Human Resource Manager

I have singled out the human resource manager as the next person. This resource is critical as you need to obtain a clear understanding of the manpower that you have to support you in your role.

Review past performance assessment with human resources to access the skillset. Note any staff issues that may exist. It is important to understand if there are any pending grievances or disciplinary issues. You will be able to also appreciate the company’s standard for accessing employees.

The human resource manager is also important to develop your understanding of the culture of the organisation. What values does the organisation hold near and dear? Is the culture fun, dynamic, fast paced? What traits must the ideal employee possess?

In the event that the role is overseas, ensure that you ask for policies relating to all forms of leaves and also taxation.  These rules differ from country to country.

Assess the team

Analysing the strengths and skillset of the resources under your supervision is important to know where you can tap into and for what.

Arrange a one and one meeting with each team member to get insight into their roles and if there are any recommendations for improvement. Many at times the team can provide valuable insight into areas of improvement which can be immediately implemented.

The team members have been in the business longer than you and usually are willing to share what is working in the business and what is not.

The following are some questions that you can consider asking members of the team:-

  • What do you enjoy the most about working here?
  • What are your key challenges?
  • What objectives are you working on to achieve over the next 90 days?
  • What’s not working in the operations?
  • What motivates you the most?
  • How do you feel about your role?
  • Is there any aspect of your role that you believe needs changing?
  • How can we improve teamwork?
  • What support do you expect from me?
  • If you were in my position what would you pay attention to first?

Meet key stakeholders

As soon as possible it is critical to meet key customers, influencers and stakeholders at their own offices for an introduction. 

For example if you are the new finance manager, it’s important to meet the bankers or new sales manager, it’s important to meet distribution partners.

People do business with people. Early introductions improve the likelihood of smoother transitions during the probationary period. If you role requires any media interaction, it is a good idea to meet key members of the media.

Understand jargons/culture

Every industry and company tends to have its unique jargons. Be sure to make notes of these and define them so that you can review and get familiar with them quickly.

Getting a firm understanding of the legal, taxation and regulatory environment of the sector is also necessary.  You need to ensure that the business is in full compliance.

If you are working in country where English is not the first language, a meeting should be arranged with the team member responsible for translating.

This will help you access their level of English. You should get a small notebook so that team members can jot down the spelling of their names until you get used to the pronunciations.

Understand key performance indicators

Additionally, every business and industry has its unique set of key performance indicators. Be sure to request access to these and understand how they are calculated.

Documents to request

The following are some of the key documents that you should request which you will need to study in great detail.

  • Budgets
  • Business process manuals
  • Key Contracts of major suppliers, distributors and other partnerships
  • Minutes of the board meetings year to date or at least for the past six months
  • Profit and loss year to date
  • Balance sheet year to date
  • Current receivables and payables
  • Previous audit report both internal and external

Create and present roadmap

By the end of the 30 days, you should have a clear idea of the where the business is and what are the issues and areas for improvement.  From this, an approved plan should be developed. Discuss with your manager and then present to your direct reports.

 All objectives should have a clear strategic execution plan as well as measure to access against the plan.  It is important to get the buy in from direct reports for the way forward.  This can be done through the assignment of champions to different areas of this new plan. The communication process should also be extremely clear.

Final Thoughts

The first 90 days at any new job is critical. It is your opportunity to convince your employer that you were an ideal fit for the role.

Most likely, it will be the period where you are required to work long hours. You will be required to grasp the operations quickly.

Furthermore, always remember that while the manager is accessing your performance, you also need to review whether the job and company culture firmly aligns with your career goals and vision.

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How To Survive The First 90 Days In A Job As A Manager


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