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The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All…

de Michael Watkins

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1,2572012,566 (3.62)2
Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors The world's most trusted guide for leaders in transition Transitions are a critical time for leaders. In fact, most agree that moving into a new role is the biggest challenge a manager will face. While transitions offer a chance to start fresh and make needed changes in an organization, they also place leaders in a position of acute vulnerability. Missteps made during the crucial first three months in a new role can jeopardize or even derail your success. In this updated and expanded version of the international bestseller The First 90 Days, Michael D. Watkins offers proven strategies for conquering the challenges of transitions--no matter where you are in your career. Watkins, a noted expert on leadership transitions and adviser to senior leaders in all types of organizations, also addresses today's increasingly demanding professional landscape, where managers face not only more frequent transitions but also steeper expectations once they step into their new jobs. By walking you through every aspect of the transition scenario, Watkins identifies the most common pitfalls new leaders encounter and provides the tools and strategies you need to avoid them. You'll learn how to secure critical early wins, an important first step in establishing yourself in your new role. Each chapter also includes checklists, practical tools, and self-assessments to help you assimilate key lessons and apply them to your own situation. Whether you're starting a new job, being promoted from within, embarking on an overseas assignment, or being tapped as CEO, how you manage your transition will determine whether you succeed or fail. Use this book as your trusted guide.… (més)
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I think I must not be the target audience for this book because I found it dull. The book had a number of useful techniques but it was definitely targeted toward leaders in more traditional companies than my workplace. I would like to read a book with fundamentally the same content but written for folks in the more casual parts of the software industry.

Since I did find the book useful but boring, I include a detailed summary below.

The first 90 days after a transition are critical for establishing yourself in the new position. Companies often fail to prepare leaders for successful transitions.

There are key steps you can take to help your transition succeed:

Promote Yourself. Make a mental break from the old job. Don't assume that what made you successful before will make you successful now. Be aware of what sort of problems you'll need to solve and how they differ from the types of problems you've been good at solving in the past.

Accelerate Your Learning. Create a plan for learning about the past, present, and future of your new organization. Look at both concrete facts and subjective impressions. Learn from internal sources and external sources. Start learning what you can before you've transitioned into your new role. Share and discuss your learning plan and learnings with your team and your boss(es).

Learn iteratively. Focus on learning the most important things first and then coming back and adding more depth and breadth. When meeting with individuals, ask everyone the same set of questions in the same order; this gives you a set of easy to compare answers.

Match Strategy to Situation. There are some common categories of situations a leader will be taking on. Knowing what type of situation you are taking on can make the difference between success and failure.

The four most common situation types are startups, realignments, turnarounds, and sustaining success. Each has different challenges. For example, in a turnaround, you don't have a lot of time to succeed but everyone acknowledges that change is necessary, while in a realignment you may have time but people may disagree on the need for change.

Secure Early Wins. Don't get lost in the big changes thatyou see when you enter an organization. Focus on securing early (generally small) wins to help build momentum. This helps you focus in the early days, and it also helps to build your credibility with the people you're working with. Ideally, the size of your wins will increase over time and all work toward some long term goal.

This chapter provided a valuable framework for the elements that must be necessary before a person can enact change. There must be sufficient awareness that change is needed. There must be a diagnosis of what needs to be changed and why. There must be a vision and strategy for change. There must be a plan for change. Finally, there must be people who support implementing the plan. Before trying to cause change, a leader should look at each of these elements and strengthen any that are weak.

Negotiate Success. You are responsible for setting up a productive relationship with your boss, even if your styles differ. Use conversations with your boss to set clear expectations of what you plan to get done when and potential opportunities or issues. Don't use these meetings to go over checklists or complain fruitlessly.

The book suggests 5 types of conversations you should have with your boss. These conversations are roughly chronological, but will repeat over time as situations change.

The situational diagnosis is a chance for you to understand your boss's perspective on the current business situation. The expectations conversation is where you work to understand what you need to get done, what success looks like, and how performance is measured.

In the style conversation, you'll learn how to communicate most effectively with your boss, being on the lookout for ways their preferred style differs from yours. Once you know what you're trying to accomplish, you'll need to have a conversation about what resources you need.

Finally, once you've proven your credibility with small wins, it's a good time to talk about your own personal development. These conversations should inform your 90 day plan, and you should also present your plan to your boss to get their buy in and feedback.

Achieve Alignment. The insight of this chapter is that the strategy, structure, systems, skills, and culture of an organization all need to be aligned to achieve success. The strategy should lead the direction, with structure, systems, and skills working to support that strategy. Culture is the often invisible background that all of these systems work against. It is the hardest to change but often the most influential.

Build Your Team. Obviously, having the right team is critical to success. What's less obvious is that it's important for a new leader to restructure their team quickly to avoid the expectation that change is not going to happen. But the team should not be changed too quickly, because a new leader has to get to know the existing team and too much churn causes instability.

What I found most valuable from this chapter was the list of 6 criteria you can use to evaluate members of your team. Competence evaluates whether or not they have the technical ability necessary for the job. Judgement evaluates whether or not the person makes good decisions, especially in difficult situations. It's also important that a team member bring the right kind of energy to the team. They need to be able to focus on the right priorities, and they need to have good relationships with the rest of the team. Finally, you need to have people you can trust to follow through on their commitments.

The book suggests dividing 100 points among the 6 criteria to weight their value and then evaluating each of your team members on these criteria. I found this framework to be useful because I find that, when it comes to evaluating people on my team, it's often hard to assess non-technical skills consistently across people and across review sessions. Explicitly defining and weighting the list of criteria would help to make evaluation more consistent. I plan to use this technique in the future.

I also appreciated the range of categories for team members after the initial assessment. A team member may be someone you want to keep in place, keep and develop, move to another position (that's a better fit), observe for awhile (and help them develop), replace (but not urgently), replace (urgently). This range of categories provides room for people who could succeed on your team but aren't currently, a situation where it's easy for things to go badly if you don't work to be aware of the possibilities.

Create Coalitions. To enact change, you need support. It's important to figure out who are supporters, opponents, and convincibiles. To turn convincibles into supporters, you want to change their perception of the choice they have to make. Often, maintaining the status quo is seen as zero cost and change is seen as high cost. Thus, as a general strategy, to get support for change, you want to raise the perceived cost of the status quo and lower the cost of change. Bribes and threats are two blunt ways of doing this, but better is to create compelling framing arguments, setting up action-forcing events such as commitments to take particular actions, getting people to change their behavior (which can lead to them changing their minds), and leveraging small commitments that will lead to larger change (e.g., get someone to come to a meeting, then review a design, then evaluate a prototype, etc.).

Keep Your Balance. All these techniques for getting off to a strong start are useful, but they're all for naught if you let yourself get overwhelmed by the change. To maintain balance, you need to adopt strategies for success, use discipline in executing those strategies, and build your support system.

Key to maintaining discipline are taking time to plan, deferring commitment to prevent yourself from becoming too busy, setting aside time for hard work, taking time to step back from high stakes situations, focusing on the process by which you try to implement change and how others perceive it, and staying aware of how your feeling (perhaps by using structured reflection), and knowing when to quit.

Your support system needs to include not just your professional support system at work and outside of work. It also needs to include your family. Change in your job can often mean change for your family. Keeping your family healthy is key to preventing a destructive feedback loop.

Expedite Everyone. Finally, for these techniques to be most effective, make sure that everyone is using structured transition techniques. As a leader, it's easiest to spread structured transitions to your team, but you can also work to spread it to your peers. If everyone can transition more effectively, then the company as a whole will be more successful. ( )
  eri_kars | Jul 10, 2022 |
The author describes a small set of particular kinds of situations that a new leader might find themselves in, and then talks about how to make a transition in that situation. Unfortunately, none of his small set of situations seemed to apply to me. I had to force myself to read to the end, and didn't get as much out of it as I had hoped. ( )
  MarkLacy | May 29, 2022 |
I guess I'm reading an old version (2003) It's been updated in 2013

Aimed at managers in larger companies.

Major Theme
Critical success strategies for new leaders at all levels. Talks about lack of transition support despite how many leaders move into a new job in US corporations.

Success (or failure) in a new role is a combo of the person and the situation. There are several different situations for transitions but there are patterns. It's not like each one is unique.

Momentum in the 1st 90 days is important. You want to start virtuous cycles (not vicious cycles). It usually takes 6 months before a new leader is paying their way (3 months of deficit and 3 months climbing out of the hole). A good start can shorten that time.

Summary
Chpt 1 - Promote Yourself
Meaning make sure you've mentally moved into the new position. Make sure you're ready to let go of some strengths that may not be appropriate. Check in w/ old mentors & advisors etc. Plan the transition w/ your existing boss and watch out for saboteurs.

Good chart on self-examining what kinds of problems you like and don't like.

Chpt 2 - Accelerate Your Learning
Lots of good ways to get the lay of the land in your new place. People to check in with, lots of good questions to ask.

Chpt 3 - Match Strategy to Situation
Four major types of situations a new leader has to confront.
• Startup - focus energy on more doing / more offense
• Turnaround - focus energy on doing / defense
• Realignment - focus energy on learning / offense
• Sustaining Success - focus energy on learning / defense ( )
  BizCoach | Apr 25, 2022 |
Standard advice, but presented well in an actionable way. Pragmatic and Machiavellian conceptually. The various tables are useful to pick and choose from for need. Good organization of the information to make a transition a little easier. Amazon is showing another update coming out early next year (2023). ( )
  FrankFurters | Mar 28, 2022 |
I read this before starting a new job, and overall found it useful. While most of the comments in the book are not revolutionary, it is useful to force yourself to read through them and think. Overall the book wants you to take away from it that you should start a new job learning the current culture, politics, procedures before trying to implement any change, and that it's on you to manage your relationship with your boss and direct reports, and that it's critical to think laterally, talking to people on different teams not just your own.

I have two criticisms for this book.

1. It is very much targeted at the Senior Manager/Executive level. For someone like me, coming in as a lead of a small team, the advice is not... that useful. I can't affect company wide change easily. There are far more lower/middle managers than executives and frankly the advice at that level is more useful. But everyone likes to think they'll be senior management one day so I understand why they'd target that.

2. The book really needs a summarized checklist. The advice is spread throughout the whole book, and a list at the end of no more than a sentence for each task/thing you should do would help organize the book. I kind of made one which I'll list below, but I know I missed some things.

* Immediately meet with your boss to set expectations for your new role
* Set up regular meetings with your boss if they do not to check in
* Setup meetings with your direct reports, boss(es), peers, and useful individuals on other teams to learn from them and get their thoughts on the company, what you should know, about their work, and build relationships
* Don't start making changes right away, learn the existing structures of the company and build support before you try to make changes
* Identify early wins which contribute to your long term goals, though really that means your *bosses* long term goals

Really the book is mostly expanding on those. ( )
  driscoll42 | Feb 28, 2022 |
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Preface: As long as there have been leaders, there have been leadership transitions.
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After eight years in marketing at a Texas-based consumer electronics company, Julia Gould was promoted to her first project leader position.
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

Named one of 100 Leadership & Success Books to Read in a Lifetime by Amazon Editors The world's most trusted guide for leaders in transition Transitions are a critical time for leaders. In fact, most agree that moving into a new role is the biggest challenge a manager will face. While transitions offer a chance to start fresh and make needed changes in an organization, they also place leaders in a position of acute vulnerability. Missteps made during the crucial first three months in a new role can jeopardize or even derail your success. In this updated and expanded version of the international bestseller The First 90 Days, Michael D. Watkins offers proven strategies for conquering the challenges of transitions--no matter where you are in your career. Watkins, a noted expert on leadership transitions and adviser to senior leaders in all types of organizations, also addresses today's increasingly demanding professional landscape, where managers face not only more frequent transitions but also steeper expectations once they step into their new jobs. By walking you through every aspect of the transition scenario, Watkins identifies the most common pitfalls new leaders encounter and provides the tools and strategies you need to avoid them. You'll learn how to secure critical early wins, an important first step in establishing yourself in your new role. Each chapter also includes checklists, practical tools, and self-assessments to help you assimilate key lessons and apply them to your own situation. Whether you're starting a new job, being promoted from within, embarking on an overseas assignment, or being tapped as CEO, how you manage your transition will determine whether you succeed or fail. Use this book as your trusted guide.

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