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5 Conversations For Your First 90 Days In A New Role


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You’re exhilarated with the challenge of a new position or new role. And yet you are acutely aware of the mountains to climb which are just ahead.

It’s essential to establish trust, create rapport, get some quick wins, and forge the right alliances in your first ninety days in the new role. One of the best strategies for that is having the right conversations.

So much of work revolves around the conversations we have. Pay particular attention to these five intentional conversations. They are particularly crucial in a new role, but they are relevant regardless of how much time you have logged in your current assignment!

  1. The Situation Conversation. Your goal with the situation conversation is to gain an understanding of how your new boss sees the state of your new organization. Is it a turnaround, a start-up, a realignment, or a sustaining-success situation?
  2. The Expectations Conversation. Your agenda with the expectations conversation will be to clarify and negotiate what you are expected to accomplish. What is expected of you in the short term and the medium term?
  3. The Style Conversation. The style conversation is about how you and your boss can best interact on an ongoing basis. What is his or her preferred form of communication—face-to-face, e-mail, voice mail, memos? How often are status reports expected? What sorts of decisions does he or she want to be consulted on, and when are you expected to make the call on your own?
  4. The Resources Conversation. The resources conversation is actually a negotiation for critical resources. What do you need to be successful? These resources are not limited to people and funds (in many government contexts, some of these may be beyond the power of your boss to provide). You might also need support from your boss and more senior managers when it comes to implementing change.

A further word on negotiating for resources. As you seek commitments for resources, keep these principles of effective negotiation in mind:

• Focus on underlying interests. Probe as deeply as possible to understand the agendas of your boss and any others to whom you will need to apply for resources. What is in it for them?

• Look for mutually beneficial exchanges. Seek resources that both support your boss’s agenda and advance your own. Look for ways to help peers advance their agendas in return for help with yours.

• Link resources to results. Highlight the performance benefits that will result if more resources are dedicated to your unit. Create a “menu” laying out what you can achieve (and not achieve) with current resources and what different sized increments would allow you to do.

  1. The Personal Development Conversation. The personal development conversation is a discussion of how your tenure and performance in this job can contribute to your own growth. The best employers are not just willing but eager to engage with you on this because they know that personally invested team members are winning team members.

How about you? With whom do you need to have these conversations? Which one can you have this week – perhaps even today?