Vernon 100 Days
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Make the First 100 Days Count 

What happens in a new employee’s first weeks on the job can make the difference between success and struggle over the long term. Smart employers make good use of this critical time.

By Carol Vernon

The first few months on a new job present opportunities and challenges for both the employee and the employer. In fact, studies show that new hires, at all levels, are most vulnerable during this period, but also more receptive to establishing new patterns of behavior for long-term job success.

Fortunately, there are many good resources available to help employees and employers think strategically about these first crucial months, including:

  • The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins
  • Your First 100 Days in a New Executive Job: Powerful First Steps on the Path to Greatness by Robert Hargrove
  • The New Leader's 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and Jorge E. Pedraza

New employees, from the most senior to junior, are encouraged during this introductory period to learn all they can about their new employer by noting what is being said—as well as what is left unsaid—during the onboarding process. New employees need to determine how they want to be perceived by their peers, direct reports, and supervisors—in other words, they need to be clear about their brand and ensure that they are walking and talking it every day. They also need to figure out who they need to know inside and outside the organization; understand how people communicate, formally and informally; and clearly identify what success looks like and understand how it will be measured.

The first few months must be about more than simply lining up visits for new employees with HR colleagues and reviewing office policies and procedures.

From the employers' perspective, it's key to clarify and share expectations about both the hard and soft skills needed for success. These first few months must be about more than simply lining up visits for new employees with HR colleagues and reviewing office policies and procedures. New hires need different types of support from employers depending on what they’ve been hired to do, where they come from, and what success looks like at the time of the hire. Ideally, employers should take a proactive approach by determining what their new hires need and subsequently provide them with the appropriate tools to build their skill set.

Successful onboarding includes ongoing conversations with new staff members. It’s important to agree on a concrete plan of action for the first 100 days. After the first 30 days, revisit these goals to determine how things are going. Be sure your new hires are meeting the people they need to meet who will help them succeed in the long term.

The smartest organizations know that they share equally in the responsibility for making new hires a success. They have clarity about how they want their new hires to be perceived, and they know action steps for ensuring the hires will be seen this way. If additional support or skill-building is needed, these organizations are committed to ensuring that new hires get the help they need, addressing issues and differences before they become problems.

Bottom line: This approach smooths the path for both new employee and new employer to achieve shared goals.

Carol Vernon is a certified executive coach and principal of Communication Matters. Email: [email protected]

Orientation and Onboarding Employee Training