TAG Consulting

5 Conversations For Your First 90 Days In A New Role

September 8, 2016


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?

Your First 90 Days In A New Role – The Most Important People

August 30, 2016

crowd NYC train

Continuing with our series on navigating your first ninety days in a new role (to read part one, click here)…

You’ve learned about the most important questions you will face in your first ninety days. Today we’ll look at the most important people you will meet – relationships you must navigate in order to succeed early on.

It’s critical that you be able to identify, understand, and work with three groups of people – your Allies, your Opponents, and your Dissenters. Below are some charts to help you think through the issues surrounding each group.


Who might be your allies? Why might they be allies? What’s their main objective (Support you? The initiative itself? The Organization?) How can this ally best help you successfully implement your program/ initiative?



Who might be your opponents? Why might they be opponents? What do they stand to lose if your initiative succeeds? How might you neutralize their opposition or get them on your side?




Who are the dissenters in your organization –those who typically voice radical ideas or mention the unmentionable? What ideas are they bringing forth that might be valuable for your program/initiative? How might you enable their ideas to have a hearing? How can you protect them from being marginalized or silenced?


3 Questions For Your First 90 Days in A New Role

August 23, 2016

open door blur

Congratulations! You’re starting into a new leadership position. You’ve cast aside the security blanket of your previous assignment. You’ve survived the emotional fits and starts of the hiring process. Now, brimming with confidence, you arrive for the first day of work secure in the knowledge that of all the candidates, you were the one who was identified as having the right combination of skills and attitude for the position.

But lingering in the back of your mind are the inevitable questions about whether you made the right move, whether your contribution will be valued, and whether the reality of the new position will live up to its expectations.

How you channel those hopes, dreams and doubts in the first ninety days will set the tone and tenor of your tenure with your new organization. You have a limited window of opportunity to create a sustainable advantage for “brand you”.

And we are here to help! Our next several posts will provide a friendly guide to mastering your first ninety days in a new leadership position.

There is no magic formula that will assure a smooth honeymoon. No genetic code governing inter-organizational relationships. But the following steps can help you make the most of your new opportunity.

Let’s start by considering the three most important questions to ask when you take up a new role.

How are you perceived by subordinates? Possibly the most startling realization, especially for those who are new to leadership positions (or who have been newly elevated above people who had been peers), is the new way in which they are regarded by those they lead. When leaders walk into a room, conversations often cease. They may no longer be invited to participate in activities with those who were once peers and friends. That’s not because of anything personal to you. That’s because you now wear a big ‘hat’ of authority, and people can no longer look at you without seeing your hat. And especially for those who, in their past story, had difficulty with authority figures, the perception of you in your new role can be extremely skewed. Bear this in mind, principally with those who inordinately praise you or disapprove of you.

How do you see yourself as different from your predecessor? Take some time to figure out exactly how your predecessor was ‘wired,’ how she actually carried on the functions prescribed, and how she was perceived by the organization. Then think about your own profile. How are you ‘wired?’ How will this effect the organization that you now lead? Keep in mind that people will often regard and handle you the way your predecessor was regarded and treated. Again, that’s not because of you personally, but what the status quo demands to continue functioning (for better or worse) smoothly.

What legacy do you want to leave behind when you depart? It’s never too early to begin to think about your legacy. This will take you to the ‘end game,’ what you hope to leave in place to make this organization a better organization.

Asking the right questions is a great start – but it’s not the whole ball game. Next, we’ll consider the major internal and external challenges you are likely to face.