Some have said that your first 90 days in a new job are your most important 90 days in that job. After all in those first 90 days a new leader sets the tone for and posture from which they are going to lead. They begin to reveal how they will interact with other team members, how they make decisions, their communication style, and their ability to assess the landscape and implement change. During the first 90 days leaders are literally setting the tone and the underpinnings for the culture that they are going to build moving forward.
There are two distinct veins of thought when you’re beginning a new job, and they’re polar opposites. The first is to change everything you can during the first 90 days because you’ll never get another window of opportunity like this again. After all the reason that you’re in the room is because the last person couldn’t affect the change necessary to move things forward and so change is to be expected with a new hire right? The second approach is to be patient, seek first to understand, and chart a clear course of action to begin to implement change and build the culture you hope to become reality in the organization you find yourself leading. My encouragement whenever possible is to go with option #2. While not every job situation will allow you the luxury of seeking understanding first, some situations demand immediate change and definitive decision making, taking the time to seek organizational and cultural understanding will allow you to execute the right change, with the right people and resources, at the right time, with the right approach. Get one of those four out of order and you could be in trouble.
In his book, “The First 90 Days,” author Michael Watkins writes…
“There are no universal rules for success in transitions. You need to diagnose the business situation accurately and clarify its challenges and opportunities. Start-ups, for instance – of a new product, process, plant, or completely new business – share challenges quite different from those you would face while turning around a product, process, or plant in serious trouble. A clear diagnosis of the situation is an essential prerequisite for developing your action plan.”
To be sure, each unique situation that you walk into will require a unique approach. In “The First 90 Days,” author Michael Watkins unpacks what it means to develop a strategy that matches the unique situation that you’re walking into.
#1 Start-up: Is this a new team or company?
#2 Turnaround: Is the group in trouble, do you need to help get things back on track?
#3 Realignment: Do you need to revitalize the project, team, or processes?
#4 Sustaining Success: Is this a well-oiled machine that simply needs you to keep moving it in the right direction?
A blessing and a curse of being new to the organization is the gift of fresh eyes. You haven’t been in the organization long enough to catch the disease of the organization, and so you see things others do not. So be honest, sober-minded, go slow when you can, don’t get stuck in minutia, keep first things first, and be decisive when decisions need to be made. You can do this!
Need help developing an actionable strategy to lead from where you are to where God wants you to be? The Unstuck Group helps churches clarify their mission, vision, and core strategies—and then realize it through prioritized action initiatives! Check it out!
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