“The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins: Book Summary

1 Line Summary

“The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter” is a book written by Michael Watkins that provides strategies for successfully navigating the critical first three months in a new role.

What Will You Learn

You’ll learn how to:

  • quickly and effectively learn the requirements of your new role,
  • build relationships with your new team and stakeholders,
  • set clear goals and priorities,
  • overcome challenges and obstacles and
  • make a successful transition into a new leadership role.

Best Quotations from the Book

  • “The first 90 days are a critical period for any new leader. It’s the time when you make a first impression, build relationships, and set the course for your tenure.”
  • “The most important thing you can do in your first 90 days is to listen. Listen to your team, your stakeholders, and your customers. Learn as much as you can about the organization and the challenges it faces.”
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people who want to see you succeed. Tap into their knowledge and experience.”
  • “Be patient. It takes time to build trust and relationships. Don’t expect to change everything overnight.”
  • “Have fun. The first 90 days are a time of great opportunity. Embrace the challenge and enjoy the journey.”

Book Summary

Here are some of the key takeaways from the book:

Step 1: Prepare Yourself Mentally

  • Mindset Shift: Approach the transition with a growth mindset, embracing the opportunity to learn and adapt.
  • Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses: Self-awareness is key. Identify your strengths to leverage and areas for improvement to address.
  • Cultivate a Learning Orientation: Be open to new information, feedback, and insights. Seek to understand the organization’s culture, norms, and expectations.

Step 2: Accelerate Your Learning

  • Diagnostic Listening: Engage in active listening to understand the existing challenges, opportunities, and dynamics within the organization.
  • Information Gathering: Collect critical data and insights from various sources to build a comprehensive understanding of the business landscape.
  • Build Relationships: Connect with key stakeholders, peers, and team members to establish rapport and gather insights.

Step 3: Secure Early Wins

  • Identify Low-Hanging Fruit: Target achievable goals that demonstrate your impact quickly. These early wins build credibility and momentum.
  • Prioritize and Focus: Choose initiatives that align with the organization’s strategic goals and can be executed efficiently.
  • Leverage Your Strengths: Utilize your existing skills and experience to deliver tangible results early on.

Step 4: Negotiate Success

  • Define Expectations: Clarify performance expectations and objectives with your manager or superior.
  • Establish Milestones: Break down long-term goals into smaller, achievable milestones. Regularly track progress and communicate updates.
  • Align on Metrics: Ensure you and your stakeholders have a shared understanding of the metrics that define success.

Step 5: Secure Your Base

  • Build Your Team: Evaluate the existing team and make any necessary adjustments to ensure you have the right people in the right roles.
  • Assess and Align Processes: Review existing workflows and processes. Streamline or improve them as needed to enhance efficiency.
  • Set Clear Communication Channels: Establish effective communication methods to facilitate collaboration and information sharing.

Step 6: Create Alliances

  • Stakeholder Mapping: Identify key individuals and groups that can influence your success. Build positive relationships with them.
  • Network Strategically: Cultivate a network of allies and supporters both within and outside your immediate team.
  • Win Over Resisters: Address resistance by addressing concerns and demonstrating your commitment to the organization’s goals.

Step 7: Secure Your Advantages

  • Invest in Professional Development: Continue to develop your skills and knowledge. Seek opportunities for growth and learning.
  • Adapt and Innovate: Stay open to change and explore innovative approaches to problem-solving.
  • Build Resilience: Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth. Develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks.

How to Identify and Manage Stakeholders

Here’s a guide on how to identify and manage stakeholders effectively:

Identifying Stakeholders:

  1. Map the Organizational Landscape: Understand the structure of your organization. Identify key departments, teams, and individuals that play a role in your area of responsibility.
  2. Recognize Decision-Makers: Identify the individuals with decision-making authority who can impact your projects and initiatives. These are often key stakeholders.
  3. Engage Peers and Collaborators: Recognize colleagues who collaborate closely with your role. Establish relationships with peers who share mutual interests.
  4. External Partners: Consider external stakeholders such as clients, vendors, regulators, and industry associations. Their influence on your role may be significant.
  5. Influence and Impact: Evaluate each stakeholder’s level of influence and impact on your goals. Prioritize those who can significantly affect your success.

Managing Stakeholders:

  1. Understand Their Interests: Take the time to learn about each stakeholder’s goals, concerns, and expectations. What do they need from your role?
  2. Communicate Clearly: Regularly communicate your plans, progress, and results to stakeholders. Use their preferred communication channels and styles.
  3. Build Relationships: Establish positive and productive relationships. Seek opportunities to connect on both professional and personal levels.
  4. Address Concerns: Address any concerns or doubts proactively. Listen actively to their feedback and work together to find solutions.
  5. Align Objectives: Clearly articulate how your initiatives align with the organization’s overall objectives. Show how your success contributes to their success.
  6. Influence and Persuasion: Use persuasive communication to gain support for your ideas. Tailor your messages to resonate with each stakeholder’s interests.
  7. Seek Input: Involve stakeholders in decision-making when appropriate. Gather their input and demonstrate your willingness to collaborate.
  8. Mitigate Resistance: Identify potential sources of resistance and proactively address them. Understand and address any potential obstacles to alignment.
  9. Regular Updates: Provide regular updates on your progress, achievements, and challenges. Transparency builds trust and keeps stakeholders informed.
  10. Show Appreciation: Acknowledge and appreciate stakeholders’ contributions. Recognize their support and express gratitude for their collaboration.

How to Build a Strong Team in First 90 Days

Building a strong team within the first 90 days involves focusing on five foremost pillars:

Assess and Align Roles

  1. Evaluate the skills and capabilities of each team member.
  2. Ensure roles are clearly defined and aligned with team objectives.
  3. Make any necessary adjustments to optimize the team’s composition.

Set Clear Objectives

  1. Define specific, measurable goals for the team’s performance.
  2. Communicate these objectives clearly to each team member.
  3. Ensure everyone understands their role in achieving these goals.

Cultivate Open Communication

  1. Foster an environment of trust and open dialogue.
  2. Encourage team members to share ideas, concerns, and feedback.
  3. Actively listen to diverse perspectives and encourage collaboration.

Promote Collaboration

  1. Encourage cross-functional teamwork and shared problem-solving.
  2. Create opportunities for team members to collaborate on projects.
  3. Leverage the collective expertise of the team to drive results.

Provide Support and Development

  1. Offer coaching, guidance, and resources to help team members succeed.
  2. Identify individual strengths and areas for improvement.
  3. Support skill development and continuous learning to enhance team performance.

If you’re a new leader who wants to make a strong first impression and hit the ground running, then you need to read “The First 90 Days”. This book is packed with practical advice and insights that will help you get up to speed quickly and effectively.

Click to know “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team“, The 5 Levels of Leadership” and “14 Essential Leadership Qualities

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top