Navigating Change In The First 90 Days
As I sit at the window of my new home, surrounded by boxes, and looking out at the blooming crepe myrtle, I can’t help but think about place. By that, I mean my sense of place, who I am, how I want to be, and who I will become in this new place, in this new chapter of my life. (We’ve recently moved to Charleston, SC.)
12 Strategies You Can Apply In The First 90 Days (And Beyond!)
A change, whether in a location, role, or company, can provide us with a chance to really consider who we are and who we want to become. So I’m going to take advantage of this time, and I’m going to take a proverbial page out of Michael D. Watkin’s book, The First 90 Days.
Though it offers guidance to professionals transitioning into new roles, I believe many of the points are applicable in a period of personal change.
#1 Secure Early Wins
At work, this can look like demonstrating your competence in and commitment to your new role. The early wins will help build your confidence and gain the trust and support of your colleagues.
As I consider life in a new location, I hope to get some early wins by establishing a routine, connecting with my kids, and relationship building.
#2 Understand the Culture
Understanding the culture of a new organization is essential for building relationships. And the same is true for moving to a new location. Understanding “how things are done around here” and taking the time to learn about this new place is a great way to start.
One thing we’ve noticed is how nicely everyone keeps their lawns here (and how quickly the grass grows!). Paying attention means ensuring the lawn is mown once a week rather than every ten days.
We’ve also noticed that we’ve been warmly greeted at every street corner when out for evening walks and have had neighbors stop by with phone numbers, offers of help, and delicious brownies. So, we will join in by making ourselves part of the welcome committee the next time someone new moves into our neighborhood.
These are small, simple things, but they allow us to harmonize with the cultural norms that are already in place. To further integrate, we’ll also check out local museums and cultural events. Personally, I can’t wait to enjoy some of the fantastic restaurants around Charleston.
#3 Build Relationships
Whether it’s key stakeholders in the company or the community, it’s important to seek out and develop these relationships through listening to understand someone else’s perspective.
You could join a group like the Junior League to find others with similar interests or get out in the community to check out local libraries, coffee shops, and recreation centers. Or you could join the local mom group on Facebook or other online groups, which can be a great way to connect and get a sense of the place.
Recently, when I was in line at the grocery store with my son, the woman behind us took the time to connect and be kind to both of us - it reminded me of how generous the outreach here is and how to build community. The welcome and embracing of newcomers is a lovely thing to model for my children.
#4 Create a 90-Day Plan
For me, I’m starting with a vision to lay the foundation for long-term success (and reach out to mentors!).
You might want to consider what you want to achieve in this new phase of your life. Establish specific, achievable goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them.
For us, this includes starting a routine that’s how we want to continue. Routines are set quite quickly, so “good” habits will support the short and long-term vision we want to move towards.
#5 Embrace Change
Everyone responds to change differently and it can bring up a number of emotions. Expect that there will be ups and downs. You can be excited about a new beginning and miss what you had before at the same time.
This is the first big move for our kids and part of my job is to help them navigate this transition too. Much like a new leader would guide their team through the change, it will involve lots of listening and ensuring everyone feels safe to share their thoughts. Embracing change involves a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and allow yourself to be open to new experiences.
For us, that includes not having the same care and support system we had back in Boston. On top, my husband was just diagnosed with a wrist fracture so we're expecting our days to be less productive. Communication, patience, generosity, and grace will need to be present as we navigate everyday life while finding our balance, getting everyone settled, and unpacking and organizing the house prior to school starting.
It’s a valuable exercise to reflect on past successes and challenges when stepping into a new role (in life or business). Even past experiences that aren’t directly related can provide insights to help you make informed decisions moving forward.
For example, this might be my kids' first big move, but they know what it’s like to walk into school or daycare on the first day. Stepping into a place where they don’t know anyone and learning to make new friends. These skills and courage will help them with this transition.
What skills or characteristics do you possess that can help you navigate this change?
#7 Communicate Your Vision
When you’re leading a team, it’s important to articulate a compelling vision for the future of the organization or your department so you can inspire others and ensure their efforts are aligned with your vision.
For my husband and I, it will be creating a vision for our family and this new chapter of our lives together so that we’re working together and supporting one another’s efforts - communication is always the key.
#8 Adapt Your Approach
Just as your leadership style needs to adapt to fit the needs of your new team, adaptability comes in handy during any time of change. We can do our best to anticipate potential obstacles and address them proactively, but there will always be unforeseen bumps in the road that will require us to adapt. Whether at work or at home, it’s important to be prepared to adapt our approach based on new information and experiences.
While I adapt quickly at work, the same is not always true at home. I like things the way I like them because they’ve been tried and tested. However, what worked in Boston might not work here. It’s imperative that I pay attention to this proclivity, design things differently, and be okay when things have to change or if there’s a benefit to change.
#9 Take Care Of Yourself
This is always good advice, but especially so during periods of change. Start by focusing on the basics because they can often be the first things to slip when we’ve got so much going on. Ensure you’re getting enough rest, eating well, moving your body, and finding time for activities you enjoy.
I must admit I’ve been here for a few weeks, and this is the first time I’ve actually turned on the stove (I’ve been on the unpacking side of things). It felt great to make and serve risotto for dinner tonight. Home-cooked meals help remind us of what binds us and support everyone in feeling cared for.
#10 Invest In Continuous Learning
It’s always important to cultivate curiosity and actively seek out opportunities to learn and grow. Whether that’s leadership training for work or something connected to the personal goals you’ve set for this new chapter in your life. Read books, attend workshops, or take courses that will help you adapt and grow to meet new challenges and become the person you want to be.
For me, I’m working on patience and not expecting my family to read my mind. Things will get done in a certain timeframe and they don’t actually need to be done yesterday. Reading and focusing on this keeps this top of mind so I don’t have unrealistic expectations of myself and others.
#11 Manage Your Time
Another piece of advice that rings true at any time but especially during times of change when things can feel topsy turvy. The first 90 days can be overwhelming so focus on activities that will create the biggest impact and don’t forget to delegate! It takes a lot of extra time to just figure things out.
As a new employee, you’re trying to get the lay of the land and don’t know who to go to even to get your network and printer set up correctly, never mind how each of your directs wants to communicate and engage together. Ensure you leave extra time for pretty much everything. And ensure you aren’t over-committing or expecting too much from yourself.
Engaging others to help with the “extra job” that is moving has been crucial as my husband and I continue to lead our respective businesses. And then there’s the time that we want to devote to connecting with our kids as we help them acclimate, both mentally, emotionally, and physically (it is HOT here when you come from up north and play tennis outside for three hours in 95-degree heat).
#12 Celebrate Milestones
Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements you make along the way, no matter how small. It can be so easy to focus on everything we still have to do, especially during the early stages of a big transition. But pausing to celebrate what you’ve accomplished can help keep you motivated and stay on track toward long-term success.
I’m literally sitting in one of three rooms that are truly livable in our home right now. Rather than seeing the chaos in the others, I’m enjoying the peace and restfulness that comes from simple white couches with blue cushions, a great view of the sunset, and empty space where boxes were once stacked to the ceiling. Concentrating on those wins keeps me going and helps me not give up and collapse into a chair, but rather take a deep breath and tackle the next room.
As I settle into my new home and my new community, I’m enjoying the opportunity to pause and reflect on who I want to be and to find my place once again. I’m looking forward to building new relationships and finding new friends as I discover the rhythm of our new routine here in Charleston.
Are you navigating a big change in your life or at work right now? And if so, what will you apply from today’s article? Send us a message on LinkedIn and let us know.
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