It’s been established by many experts that the first 90-days on a new job are critical. Once a reputation is established, it tends to be self-perpetuating. First impressions are everything, and during that first 90-days, you set the tone for the rest of your tenure at a company. You want to get it right from the beginning. It’s essential to ensure you successfully continue to move up the ladder.

The first 90-days is when you figure out how the system works, get to know co-workers and familiarize yourself with the culture before trying to implement any kind of changes.

The first 90-days is when you figure out how the system works, get to know co-workers, and familiarize yourself with the culture before trying to implement any kind of changes. Now is the time to go after small victories, get the lay of the land and establish your self in a positive light. You also want to leave any baggage you are carrying from your previous work history behind you to avoid repeating patterns that have been problematic for you in the past. A coach helps you overcome your weaknesses and increase the odds that you will successfully get to the other side of the first 90-days.

It’s easy to make mistakes when starting out at a new company. There are common pitfalls everyone faces. A coach supports you in negotiating the matrix of complex organizations as well as the challenges of start-up cultures, which often lack a clear structure to work within. By getting support in navigating these rough waters, you avoid making costly mistakes that can sabotage your long-term success at a company. When an employee invests time, money and resources in hiring new talent, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure it’s a long-term productive engagement. Simply put: hiring people is costly, and looking for a job is costly. Best to minimize the time spent doing both.

Here’s a list of tactics and strategies to apply when starting a new position:


Take time to observe the culture, get to know people, and the scenario before forming opinions or a tactical strategy. 

As one of my former 90-day coaching clients, John D. an Executive Producer at a video game company (names withheld for confidentiality), explains, “A coach helped me to avoid the more or less obvious pitfalls, as well as navigate the treacherous waters.” A coach supports you in hashing out the scenario and guides you to make strong tactical decisions.


When you begin a new position, it needs to be your sole focus. It’s not the time to focus on work/life balance if you want to create those early wins and build credibility. It takes all of your energy and concentration to successfully establish your self in a new position. A coach supports you in staying on target.


Identify strengths and weaknesses as quickly as possible. It can make a huge difference in your long-term success. If you have a clear accurate assessment of possible pitfalls, you’re better equipped to make the right decisions, build high achieving teams and identify the support you need to effectively to do your job. A coach supports you identifying both your own as well as organizational strengths and weaknesses.


Assess the specific skills you possess that you want to focus on and harness in this new position to be effective. The skills you most relied on at your last company may not be the ones you need to emphasize in your current position. It’s time to make the necessary adjustments to be effective. 

John D. explains, “I was better equipped with a person pointing out what skills and approach to focus on based on the environment, and someone to analyze complex situations with me. It’s a luxury not often experienced for most people in their first 90- days.” A coach supports you in identifying the patterns and the skills you need to harness.


Manage expectations. Getting clear about what needs to be accomplished and establishing a “wow” strategy is better done with two heads than one. A coach provides another brain that is neutral to discuss ideas, personalities and strategy in a confidential safe environment where you can speak candidly about what is happening, challenges you are confronting and various work dynamics. 

John D. reflects that “Having someone make sure you’re leveraging the right skills for the corporate culture, recognizing what is a priority, in the right light, applying the right skills – and getting that second opinion that you aren’t batshit crazy, is immensely powerful, even for the most bitter leadership veteran.” A coach is trained to help you with the specific workplace scenarios and interpersonal dynamics that arise.


Taking on leadership roles can require offensive, defensive and sometimes a combination of both strategies to be effective. The ability to hit the ground running when taking on a leadership position at a new organization can make or break your ultimate success. Depending on the scenario, you may need to apply various strategies. A coach can help you navigate the best approach and guide you on how to switch tactics when necessary.


Getting communication right between your boss, subordinates, and co-workers is imperative. A coach can help you practice communication techniques and pick up on subconscious tendencies that may be giving off an impression you don’t want to give. You can also rehearse conversations with a coach tweaking your communication style to make sure you deliver the message you intend to deliver.


When dealing with different cultural contexts, getting communication right is especially critical. John D. explains, “Having worked in Iceland, England, China, the US and Canada, a coach helped me analyze and adapt faster to the demands of the different corporate cultures between each country.” In today’s global workforce, navigating cultural differences and styles is critical to achieving and thriving in a leadership position.

As Michael Watkins expresses, the first 90-days is when you want to secure your position through winning a series of small successes and establish critical relationships on good solid terms. You are building the foundation for a marathon, not a sprint. During those first 90-days be prepared to be hyper-focused to firmly establish yourself.

During those first 90-days be prepared to work harder than usual, put in the extra hours, and be hyper-focused to firmly establish yourself.

A coach supports you setting goals, establishing a strategy and guiding you to avoid common pitfalls as well as not repeating past mistakes to ensure you emerge from the first 90-days firmly established and on solid footing ready to achieve more, thrive more and go further in your career.

Think back on your past first 90-days in your current position- What would you re-do or how could a coach have helped you reach success and balance faster?

Previously published on LinkedIn.