As President Donald Trump, the 45th leader of the United States of America, prepares to take office, we thought it might be helpful to share some advice. After all, the first 100 days in a new office, whether it be corporate or the Oval, are absolutely pivotal when it comes to your approval! Good luck, Mr. President. The whole world is watching. And for anyone else who might be taking on a new challenge this January, here are our tips on making your first 100 days count.
The first 100 days decide whether or not you’re a successful hire, or a complete flop. It no longer matters how well you pitched yourself in your initial job interview, or how you’ve structured your CV. Individuals in a new position are thrust into the spotlight and forced to walk a tightrope in front of their new colleagues, at a new company and under the close observation of their direct reports. How can you make the most of the first 100 days in a new job?
The shift into a new position creates a great opportunity – this could be a huge boon to your professional success. But on the other hand, a new job leaves you vulnerable to plenty of mistakes and pitfalls. It’s worth mentioning that a significant percentage of all new hires throw in the towel within the first 100 days. But as long as you’re being observed every step of the way, you should make your best effort to demonstrate that the management made a great decision in selecting you as the best possible candidate for your new executive position.
1. Preparation: Understand the Expectations
When you want to establish yourself as a senior manager, much of the expectations stem from your preparations for the new position. Like it or not, you’re entering the firm as the “new guy” – when you’re not an internal hire, you’ve got a lot of learning to do about your new organization. In a job interview, you can only get a hint of the company culture, and before you truly start at your new position, your network within the company is worth nothing. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to do some research before you begin. Which tools and software does your new company use? Already on your first day, you should put together a list of who can help you with each individual situation – this way, you’ll know who to contact, should you encounter any issues in your transition. Inform yourself about your future tasks and responsibilities, and be sure that the expectations for your performance are clear on both sides.
2. Learning: Ask Questions
Ask any burning questions you may have in your first few days. You’re new, so this won’t raise any eyebrows – it’s expected. It would be much worse if you went several weeks before asking your supervisor a critical question – this would lead him to wonder how you’ve managed to work a month without understanding the basics of your tasks and responsibilities… In the first few days and weeks, you’ll receive tons of information and input. Use a notebook, a folder, or a document on your computer to collect all of this information. No one can remember everything. Remember: Half of knowledge is knowing where to find it.
3. Establishing Contacts: Build Relationships
When you enter a new company, you’re entering a brand new microcosm of relationships and hierarchies. Take a few days just to observe. Who sets the tone in the office? Who can you talk to when you need help? Exercise restraint, even if it’s not in your nature, and try to hold back from joining in the office gossip at the water cooler. You must first earn this place. Demonstrate that you’re polite, kind, and competent. Introduce yourself, but also make sure not to reveal all of the private details of your life all at once. Being too open can usually backfire, as you want your new colleagues to base their initial impression on your working competencies, not the fact that you won a hot-dog eating contest last summer. When you can give a sovereign, sympathetic and kind impression, you’ve already given yourself an advantage.
4. Demonstrate Your Capacity: Bringing In New Ideas
From the moment you set foot in the company, you should strive to convey a motivated attitude to your new colleagues. This means asking questions, networking, and demonstrating that you want to integrate 100% in the company. However, it’s completely inappropriate to try and restructure the entire organization within your first week. A bit of sensitivity will never hurt – certainly you could suggest methods of how to optimize certain processes. But you must restrain from criticizing during your first 100 days at your new job. Do not step on any toes at your new job. Wait to impose any large changes until you’re properly acclimated in the new company. This means working there for at least three months.
But don’t let this keep you from mentioning new ideas. Make your creativity, problem solving skills and your strategic thinking skills known. Avoid useless comparisons to your old company at all cost. Employees who constantly praise their past employers come across as unsatisfied – it raises the question, why did you leave? This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share best practices from your past experience with your new team – but it is much more helpful to support your claims with facts and studies.
5. Take Your Time: Avoid Taking On “Too Much Too Soon”
You’re talented, most likely an excellent executive – otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten the position. But regardless, you should still remain humble. It’s much more impressive to hold back from mentioning your countless skills and strengths – it’s preferable to show what you’ve got, rather than bragging uselessly. Patting oneself on the back never comes across very well. In an interview with German newspaper “Zeit,” career advisor Carolin Lüdemann recommends: “Just because you beat out the competition [for this position] doesn’t mean that you have no weaknesses.”
But on the other hand, it’s important not to underestimate yourself. After the first week with a new company, you should already have a good overview – you’ve probably developed a solid routine. You’re highly motivated, and you want to show it. So you join in on the content project, volunteer to help with the Christmas party, and of course you want to give your two cents on the restructuring of the trainee program for your department. But kick it down a notch. Think long and hard about which additional projects you can afford to take on, before you overextend yourself and cannot take care of your regular daily duties. When you’re positive that you have the capacity to take on this new project, wonderful. If not, you should wait until you’ve mastered your first 100 days at your new job.
6. Focus on The Goal: No Mistakes
Even when you’ve successfully completed the first few weeks at your new employer, that’s no reason to rest on your laurels. In fact, just the opposite: now is the time to work even harder! Perhaps you already feel super comfortable in your new position – you’ve almost completed the first 100 days at your new job. But don’t think this means you can relax. Come earlier in the mornings, not later, and avoid leaving the office at 5:59 on the dot. This only makes you look demotivated. Don’t schedule a doctor’s appointment during your core working hours – unless it’s an emergency situation, of course. But postpone your quarterly dental checkup until after your first 100 days are cleared. The point here is to avoid making any errors that might cause your colleagues to take notice that you’re not 100% invested in your new position. And it’s equally important to take note of the names of all of your new colleagues. Nothing is more uncomfortable than asking, “What was your name again,” when you’ve been working with your colleague for eight weeks already. Mistakes that are acceptable in the first two or three weeks can quickly turn into egregious errors after the first three months. Commit these names to memory, or create mnemonic devices to help you remember them.
Think carefully – those who master their first 100 days at a new job have a great advantage for the rest of their career with a company. Position yourself as the ideal executive, and you’ll become the ideal executive.