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Get Strategic About Your Honeymoon Period

Don’t squander your first 90 days on the job. Be strategic about how you use all of that inherent good will and flexibility to build a smarter career.
COLLABORATORS Michael D. Watkins
The onboarding checklist
photo by Luke Strange

We’ve shared reserch on the importance of a new leader’s first 90 days on the job. We’ve even suggested ideas for indoctrinating recent hires in your organization.

But if you’re the fresh face thinking strategically about how to best use your honeymoon period, we refer you to Michael D. Watkins and this checklist in his recently updated book The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.


Business Orientation

  • Access financial, product, strategy, and brand information as early as possible.
  • Ask the company to assemble a briefing book.
  • Schedule tours of key facilities before the formal start date.

Stakeholder Connections

  • Solicit your peers for introductions to key people with whom you should connect early.
  • Take control of your calendar to meet with stakeholders early — before you even start work, if possible.

Expectations Alignment

  • Understand and engage in business planning and performance management.
  • Schedule a conversation with your boss and your direct reports in your first week to talk specifically about expectations and working styles.

Cultural Adaptations

  • Schedule conversations with your team and the HR department to discuss the organization’s culture.
  • Identify and connect with people inside the organization who could serve as “cultural interpreters.”
  • Schedule meetings after 30 days with supervisors, peers, and direct reports to discuss the adaptation process.



In the book’s introduction, Watkins (@watkinsmichael) lays the groundwork for how leaders should think about starting a new job. Your break-even point in terms of value should come at six months. That means: If it takes you roughly 90 days to get up to speed (detracting a certain amount of value from the company in the process), you should spend the next three months working to add an equivalent amount of value to the organization.

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