Your First 90 Days & The Only School That Matters

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The first 90 days on a new job are probably the most critical for ANYONE.  It’s a time when you are confronted with so many new things….

  • New Colleagues:  Establishing sound relationships, remembering names, knowing who the key opinion leaders are

  • The Culture:  One of the critical components.  Here’s a primer.

  • The business model of the company:  How they generate money and improve over time

  • External stakeholders of the business:  Customers, suppliers, investors

And of course, your JOB.  What you were hired to do.

It brings me to the critical question:

Who’s the #1 person in charge of training a new employee?

  • The direct manager?
  • The “training” manager?
  • The peers of the new employee?
  • All of the above?
  • None of the above?

If I answer as the leader of a company, I probably lean towards “All of the above.”

If I’m giving practical advice to 99% of the world?  NONE OF THE ABOVE.

The person in charge of successfully on-boarding a new employee, is the NEW EMPLOYEE.  The person in the mirror is the one in charge.  The one with the most at stake.  The one that has the most to learn, and if they don’t learn it, they will not survive.

The stakes are even higher, if that person…

  • Has > 5 years of experience.  Companies hire for experience for a simple reason:  Most are not good at training, and they are paying for the accelerated ramp up experience SHOULD provide, but often does not.  The more experience, the > the expectations.  
  • Is working for a person (direct manager) that may fall into one of my favorite institutions:  The Old School.

Everyone has a different definition of what it means to be Old School, but most agree on the general characteristics.  Fact is, put a new employee reporting to an Old School manager, and that new employee better get used to the person in the mirror being in charge.  Why?

The Old School Leader tends to gain their satisfaction from:

  • Results, not pedigrees.

  • Sincere effort.  Blood.  Sweat.  Tears.  Paying your dues.  Action > Talk.

  • In short, the Old School Leaders almost always has Dirt Under Their Nails.  They wear it as a badge of honor.   They believe in leaving it all on the field.  Hustle mandatory, not optional.

Want to find a surefire way to UN-successfully fail on your first 90 days?  Come off acting like a robot, a stuffed shirt, a business wonk, a theorist.  Don’t get your hands dirty.  Don’t show the effort beyond normal working hours.

Imagine this:  A new employee enters the following scenario (extremely common by the way)

  • The company is not “sexy,” but it’s manufacturing, one of the pillars of our great economy.  Margins are measured by pennies on the $.
  • The key people all have 10+ years of great experience building that company.  They are successful BECAUSE of these very people.
  • They are all generally “Old School.”

What’s the recipe for failure?

  • Work normal business hours.  Remember, we are dealing with Old School.

  • Don’t ask questions.

  • Don’t offer to help people swamped.

  • Don’t get your hands dirty in the ugliest, un-sexiest assignments.

  • Most important:  Don’t build trust.  Break commitments.  Don’t “Do what you say you will do.”

Common sense?  You bet.  Broken often?  ABSOLUTELY.

If you were to analyze why most new hires do not make it, I bet the root cause is simple:  There’s a tendency for the new employee to not count on the most important person to get it done:  The person in the mirror.

Most of the time, where and IF a person went to college doesn’t matter.  But everyone has gone to school.  If you are starting a job and those people are from the Old School, strap yourself in.  Be humble.  And be prepared to garner respect the old fashion way:  Earning it.  

 

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