Your First 90 Days: How to Successfully Start a New Job

Your First 90 Days- How to Successfully Start a New Job (2)Congratulations! You’ve landed a new job and your first day has arrived. Suddenly, you are inundated with change requests, management asking for reports and your calendar is already booked for the next two weeks. There seems to be no ramp-up period; no time to evaluate the org setup and get a feel for the politics of the organization. Soon, if you aren’t careful, you’ll be a rat in the wheel – spinning but going nowhere.

Being successful in a new role requires planning. Making a plan for your first 90 days is a great way to avoid the rat wheel to nowhere and instead focus on how to make the most impact in your first 90 days; setting the stage for days 91 and beyond.

Use this post as a template. Adapt it to fit your needs. It’s all about helping you be successful.

Preparing for Your First Day

Before starting the new gig, sit down and outline who you want to be in this new role and how you want to do it. A new job is a chance to brand or re brand yourself in the new company. Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers. Once an answer is provided do some self-reflection.

  1. How did others perceive me at my previous employer? Did I like having that label or not?
  2. How do I want to my peers to perceive me?
  3. What are the things that I should start / stop / continue doing to be successful?
  4. Based on what you heard during the interview process, what are some of the items that you think you want to tackle on day 1?
  5. In what ways will I step out of my comfort zone in this new role?

This exercise is really a way for you to do some introspective thinking before being thrown to the wolves on day 1. With clarity of thought, document your findings and desires. Take them with you on day 1 and keep them handy for reference while you work through the first 90 days.

Allow me to give you a quick example of why this is important.

When I started my career, I was intimidated by the folks in the C-suite. When the co-founder or CEO would ask me a question, my mind went blank, my palms began to sweat and the only word I knew how to say was “yes.” I didn’t like this about myself so when I changed jobs, I decided that I would get over that fear. It took me a little while, but I am now able to have conversations and even push back on these individuals when necessary – with no sweaty palms!

Understand your strengths and weaknesses and how you want to improve or change those areas of yourself with this new role. This is a super important exercise to do before day 1.

Month 1: Evaluate & Listen

The first 30 days in a new position are crucial. This is the time to demonstrate your stellar interpersonal skills. Engage in conversation with everyone you meet. Ask about them, their family, their interests. Begin to build the rapport with those in your organization even if they don’t use Salesforce.

If it’s part of a training plan or not, take the time to sit down with individuals from all departments and understand what they do. Ask probing questions. Determine how they use Salesforce and what the pain points are. Don’t generate or provide any solutions just yet. Listen and document. The goal here is to truly understand the issues, and get a big picture understanding of what work needs to be done.

While doing this, learn everything you can about the business and business processes. By the end of the first month, you should know exactly how the critical business processes work – especially those of the Salesforce users.

Do an evaluation of the Salesforce org as well. Familiarize yourself with the configuration. Understand the naming conventions, data model and overall structure. Review any documentation (if any is provided) and document your findings. Take note of the areas that need to be fixed or improved upon but don’t begin going through too much of an overhaul process until month two.

Notice that there is nothing in this first month that is going to make too many waves. During this time, day-to-day work is still getting done but the org is treading water (assuming there are no big or urgent initiatives). Month one is all about self-education which will act as your foundation for the next two months.

Month 2: Identify & Execute

Now comes the fun part. Month two is when you begin to take action. After observing and listening to users, understanding pain points, and having done an evaluation of the Salesforce org, it’s time to crack the whip and get to work!

Understanding what work needs to be done, create an Impact and Effort Matrix on a whiteboard or similar space and use sticky notes to map out the work you’ve identified in the first month. This is a great way to create a prioritized list of “quick wins” that can be executed right away.

impact-effort-matrixBy working on these high impact, low effort tasks, you’ll build credibility with the organization, win favor in the eyes of the users, and begin to lay the foundation for all future improvements.

While going through this process, be sure to revisit the list of questions and answers document during the pre-work stage. Are you living up to your potential or meeting the goals that you set out to accomplish? If not, now is the time to adjust. Habits are forming now so be sure they are the correct habits.

This step is one of my favorites. I remember walking into ReadyTalk and after going through month one, I started activating small features that had a huge impact on overall usability. Things like activating the collapsible side bar and making small changes to search page layouts and adding help text. These changes required minimal effort on my part, but had users (and management) talking about how much better Salesforce was to use.

Focus on the quick wins first.

Month 3: Engage & Disrupt

At this point, you’ve built up trust and validation within your company. You’ve proven your knowledge of Salesforce and of the business. Now it’s time to really engage. And not just engage, but really start to probe. Ask questions that challenge the status quo in order to get folks thinking. Don’t be afraid to take the bull by the horns to steer and direct the conversation.

By engaging in some conversations that are outside of the companies norm, or by bringing up issues that may be sensitive in order to see what type of movement or traction can be found, you are letting the company know that you intend to make changes to improve the business no matter what.

However, there should never be an argumentative tone and these conversations should never happen with malice. Instead, it should always come from a place of true helpfulness. Your goal isn’t to make waves for the sake of making waves. Your goal is to make waves when necessary in order to progress the organization. There is a difference and it’s all around intent.

This also doesn’t mean that every major project or issue should be tackled. Focus your efforts on one or two topics that need to be addressed but that everyone is tip-toeing around. As a newcomer to the club, you have the advantage of not knowing the history of the topic and can claim innocence. You also have a fresh perspective that others in the organization may not have heard before. That won’t be the case for much longer.

Strike while the iron is hot and don’t let your foot off the gas from this point forward.

Continue reviewing your preparation notes and make adjustments as you progress through the third month. By the end of month three, you will have built a rapport with those in the organization. Make sure that it’s a good one!

What have you done in the past to make your first 90 days successful at a new company? Leave a comment below!

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17 Comments


  1. Mia Whitfield

    August 10, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Great post, Brent! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  2. A Malloy

    August 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    This post is very timely- I just started a new position today. Thanks for the great advice!

    Reply

  3. Johan

    August 10, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    things maybe a little different if your new company is a huge mnc with many admins and dev spread all over the world.
    But, it is good sharing to plan your first day!

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      There are always nuances, but the exercise is still important and relevant! Thanks for commenting Johan!

      Reply

  4. Missy Guley

    August 11, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Awesome! Thanks for the great & timely info! While I’m not starting a new job at a new company – I am moving to a new position… Salesforce Admin at my current company October 1. Looking forward to implementing the Impact and Effort Matrix Whiteboard. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 11, 2015 at 2:56 pm

      Still a great opportunity to reinvent yourself! Thanks for reading and for the comment Missy. Good luck in your new role!

      Reply

  5. Chad

    August 11, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    thanks for the article. not new in my role but i’m going to use the matrix outlined above.

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      August 11, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      Awesome Chad! That matrix is helpful no matter what!

      Reply

  6. Mosleh Chowdhury

    October 18, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Brent,

    Just saw you had posted this on LinkedIn. You COULD NOT have posted this at a better time. I’m due to start a new job at the beginning of next month as (pretty much) the Head Salesforce Admin for the whole organisation. I’m already an admin in my current role, under more senior admins. But this will be my first time having such responsibility (and power to be honest) so it’s great that to have a nice guideline to help me prepare in advance of that.

    Thank you, this is incredibly helpful and I will be sure to utilise it.

    Mos
    (London, UK)

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      October 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Congratulations Moshleh! That is awesome news. I’m happy that the post was useful for you! Good luck in your new role.

      Reply

  7. Sarah

    January 18, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you Brent, very practical but important points. Prepping for a (solo) Admin interview and your material is always helpful! 🙂

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      January 22, 2016 at 8:37 am

      Thanks, Sarah! Glad that it was helpful! Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it!

      Reply

  8. Theo

    July 3, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Brent

    Thanks for the link as this was really relevant to me as i am taking over an org next week.
    I have made necessary notes and i think i have my next 3 months planned out and will be religious to your post.

    thanks a bunch

    But if possible
    1. can you recommend the best documentation tool you know of
    2. best way to setup an internal salesforce helpdesk system

    what a star

    cheers again

    Reply

    • Brent Downey

      July 6, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Hey Theo! There are a lot of tools that you can choose from. First, see what tools are currently being used in the org to decide how to proceed. Check my post on Documenting your org for more thoughts on this. You may also want to check out my posts on creating a change management system which reviews creating a helpdesk system in your org. Good luck!

      Reply

      • Irene

        March 13, 2018 at 10:06 pm

        Hi Brent! I’ve seen your post in a very timely manner. I will be starting my career as a Salesforce Admin next month and I would like to know what to do on my first day and you post has helped me a lot and lighten my worries. Thank you for sharing this.

        Reply

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