The Four-Step, New Hire Checklist—The First 90 Days of a Job

In today’s world, there’s little to no grace period for new hires. It’s up to you, from day one, to prove yourself in your new role and validate their decision to hire you. Tangible results, delivered early, are the best way to establish your credibility and give you a foundation on which to build.

But, before making suggestions or big changes, realize you are walking into an existing culture with an in-place staff, procedures and policies. Here are a few guidelines to make the honeymoon period as productive as possible.

New Hire Checklist

• Assess the Situation: Observe, Listen, and Learn
• Identify Resources and Roadblocks
• Determine Who Stays, Who Goes and Who is Added
• Establish Winning Tactics for Outcomes Sought

Assess the Situation

Knowing the answers to these questions will help you avoid becoming a casualty of corporate politics:

• Who are the various corporate players?
• What are their roles?
• Who has ownership of particular in-place programs?
• Who are the decision makers, and who influences their decisions?
• Does a particular vendor or employee have a high-level champion that you would be wise not to cross?
• What is the overall interaction among the various players?

Study the formal organizational chart, of course, but also observe the informal office relationships that will commonly reveal how agendas are advanced:

• Who is copied on e-mail?
• Who attends which meetings?
• Who lunches with whom?

And don’t start something new, or change what is in place without first determining what is working and what is not. Make friends cautiously. A new confidant could be a troublemaker, someone out of favor, or could even be on his or her way out!

Identify Resources and Roadblocks

The human resources staff, your subordinates, peers and those above you are sources of knowledge. You want to appear to be casual in your information-gathering campaign, but you can benefit from doing it systematically; prepare a chart to keep track of the meetings you need to arrange:

Who Are the Information Sources in Your Company?

Name and Meeting Date


Who Are the Bosses, Peers and Subordinates Likely to Play a Role in Your Success? We always coach Five O’ Clock Club clients to ask themselves: "What do these individuals think of me, and what should they think of me?" Based on the answers to these questions, you then may create a plan for developing the relationship you want.

Names of Bosses, their Perception of Me, and my Plan for Each


Names of Peers and my Relationship with Each


Within a few weeks of starting a new job, you should be able to write down some of the challenges you face, as well as possible options and backup plans. Limitations in budgets, staff deficiencies and political realities may only now become apparent.

What factors could block your success? What could you do to eliminate obstacles? What is your backup plan?



Eliminating Roadblocks: Steps to Take


Backup Plan


Should you determine that success is not possible, it is important to craft an exit strategy. This means keeping up your visibility and contacts within your industry, and continuing to develop skills and the accomplishments that will keep your career on track.

Determine Who Stays, Who Goes and Who Is Added

As your career advances, your work accomplishments often are the indirect result of the work of subordinates — rather than the direct result of your actions. Sadly, the staff in place when you start a new job may not provide the support you need. Early assessment of your staff avoids demoralizing strong performers, and may provide the kick that will get weak performers on track or out the door.

Checklist for Assessing Staff:

1. What tasks are the members of your staff doing?
2. Do the tasks match or differ from those listed in their job descriptions?
3. Will current tasks assigned to each person contribute to achieving the goals you have set? Are new job descriptions needed?
4. Is performance measurement in place? That is, are the metrics well thought out? Will they really help you to figure out if goals are being met?
5. Are procedures in place to track workflow? Are new procedures needed?
6. Do reports exist to keep you informed on what employees are doing? What is the report frequency?
7. Do performance reviews exist?
8. What is the attitude and morale of the employees?
9. Are employees’ interpersonal skills effective or in need of development?
10. What are the perceptions of others with whom each employee works?

Establish Winning Tactics for Outcomes Sought

As you identify resources and roadblocks and determine adjustments to staff, keep refining your planning and prioritizing of short-and long-term goals.

• What are the priorities you want — and are expected — to achieve?
• What actions must you take to ensure success, and what can be delegated?
• What are the deadlines for achieving the big picture goals, and for accomplishing the tasks that must be completed along the way?
• What outcomes must be completed by each staff position in order to achieve success?

As a manager, think what are the:

• Long-and short-term achievement goals, by staff position
• Tactics for achievements, with completion dates
• Communication strategies for gaining buy-in by staff, for influencing various populations and for informing various players
• Methods for receiving feedback and tracking outcomes
• Dates for determining necessary adjustments.

As you finish your first 90 days, stay positive and focused on achieving the broader vision. If you are managing a team — of whatever size — delegate the appropriate tasks to staff members. If the situation changes be flexible and adjust your strategies or tactics.

And when you are managing a team, remember:

• Lead by providing each staff member with the necessary resources and guidance for them to achieve success
• Keep the work on track to achieve management’s expectations
• Anticipate future needs and possible problems
• Accomplish the GOALS for which you were hired: Do NOT get bogged down by diversions from your GOALS.

And also remember, you are building accomplishments that will not only keep you marketable within your new company, but also within your industry.

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. — Winston Churchill

Suzanne B. Harwood conducts a weekly Five O' Clock Club job search workshop for executives. In her private practice, she coaches individuals on career change and issues at work, and both speaks frequently and conducts workshops at professional and academic venues on career topics. She is a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Women's Leadership Center of Alfred University, as well as a past member of the five-person AARP Executive Council for New York State, a strategic and policy-making board. She was past chair of the career development committee of The Advertising Club of New York and was a board member of the NY chapter of the Association for Psychological Type. •