Win Your First 90 Days on the Job with This Learning Agenda

Keyboard, calendar, pad, and pen

Everyone wants to start a new job on the right foot, especially when it’s the job you’ve been dreaming of. You want to come off as polished and professional. You want your new boss to be 100% certain that she made the right decision when she hired you. You want her to know that you have your stuff together.

But, that doesn’t mean rushing in with a list of to dos and a predefined set of goals and objectives. Think about it…you haven’t even started yet! Because you haven’t started, you don’t know the key priorities or projects that are critical to the organization. You have some sense of your role but you haven’t met the key players and you haven’t learned how your role impacts others within your organization. All of these things are critical components relevant to any objectives you would outline. Additionally, your new manager will want to have buy-in to your goals as well as your development; she can’t do that if you’ve outlined them without her perspective.

Still, if you’re just itching to do something before your first day, here’s what I recommend: Instead of creating a set of objectives for what you’ll accomplish, develop a 30-60 day learning agenda of the critical information you need to learn in order to be successful in your new role.

Create your perfect learning agenda

Questions to ask:

  • How does my boss like to communicate?
  • What are my key projects/goals within the first 30-90 days?
  • How does my department support the other areas of the organization?
  • How is my department positioned to contribute to the company’s goals and strategy?
  • What are the key successes that my department has made to the organization?
  • How does my role specifically support my department/organization’s short/long-term strategy?
  • What is the low hanging fruit that will enable me to quickly demonstrate my value to the organization?

Actions to take:

  • Review business/ department goals/objectives
  • Review your job description & org charts
  • Schedule meetings with key colleagues
  • Learn departmental processes & systems
  • Determine, with your manager, on-going touch base sessions
  • Actively seek feedback on processes and ways to contribute

By the end of your learning agenda you should be clear on a few things:

  • Performance expectations, including: how you will be evaluated, time of reviews and merit eligibility
  • Company & department strategy, mission, goals and key Initiative
  • How you’ll add value
  • Who you’ve met and how you’ll interact with them
  • Short term/long-term goals
  • Strategic priorities for your role
  • Your manager’s assessment of your performance thus far

Remember, it’s okay to spend some time really learning your role and your new organization. You don’t have to come in day one with all of the answers. All too often, new employees, full of passion and excitement become a one person demolition team. They are determined to show everyone around just how talented they are. Take the time to find out why things are done the way they are before you begin offering solutions for a complete overhaul.

Finally, there are some great books that can help you develop a strategy for success in your new role. A few I would recommend are: The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins and Right From The Start by Dan Ciampa. If your new job is a management role, check out, You’re In Charge – Now What?

Qiana WilliamsAbout the author: Qiana Williams is a former contributing writer for Idealist Careers.


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  1. Reply

    the method is so helpfull, i think ihave start make an agenda

    • C.D.
    • May 5, 2017

    I love this idea, and I have used something similar. I have also started to add in my cover letter what I would do in my first 90 days on the job, if offered. When I do my homework on the position and on the organization, and if I can truly see myself working for that organization and in that role, I find this to be a beneficial exercise in preparation for a potential interview.

      • Alexis Perrotta
      • May 5, 2017

      Hi, C.D. Thanks so much for sharing this tip; what a great idea! I’d love to hear more about how you introduce your mini 90-day plan in your cover letter, as well as tips for keeping it brief and specific. What kind of feedback you’ve gotten from this strategy. Looking forward to more on this!

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