Priorities for Your First 90 Days as a Manager

This article originally appeared on Microlearning, our bite-sized online solution for leaders and individual contributors.

Your first 90 days will be overwhelming. You’re likely to have more tasks and people demanding your time than ever before. To avoid getting lost in the chaos, here are four priorities that we’ve selected as being critical for any manager in their first 90 days. You may want to add one or two more for your particular situation.

Use these to prioritize your time. Every week ask yourself, What can I do this week to help me with my top priorities? And whenever any new request comes in, ask yourself, Does this fit within my priorities or not? Should I really be spending my time here?


1. Building a productive relationship with your boss.

You’re going to have your hands full learning how to manage your team and the last thing you want is boss problems. In fact, you want just the opposite — a supportive coach who can help you learn the ropes of management and cut you some slack when you mess up. Which you will, a lot!


2. Building a productive relationship with your team members.

Management is all about building and maintaining a productive team. And that starts with productive individual relationships with each of your team members. Each will be unique and require different approaches. Building relationships well takes a long time — much longer than 90 days. Aim for a good start.


3. Setting goals and starting to deliver value.

Hopefully you’ll be given some slack during your first few months because everyone will know you’re new and just settling in. But at some point those expectations will start to change and you’ll need to begin owning your role and producing results. It’s critical to use the time you have during your first 90 days to gather the information and make the assessments you need in order to create a plan for the future.


4. Developing essential manager skills.

Management requires a completely different set of skills than an individual contributor role. Those skills take practice to get good at. And to make matters even more challenging, a technique that works in one company or with one team may not work well with another — context matters, greatly. You’ve got three months in which you can get away with mistakes because “you’re new.” After that a lot more will be expected of you. We suggest starting with the following skills:

  • Delegation. If you don’t delegate, you’ll get swamped trying to complete all the work yourself. And if you delegate poorly, your team will be confused and the result will be low performance. Unfortunately, effective delegation is much harder than most people realize. You need to learn how to decide which work to delegate, whom to delegate it to, how to delegate it, and how to follow up without micromanaging. Not easy!
  • Giving and receiving feedback. Feedback is your best tool to influence the behavior of your team and improve as a manager. Giving feedback allows your team members to understand your expectations, how well they are doing, and how they can succeed. And getting feedback is the best way to understand how your behavior affects others and how you can improve. Yet giving and receiving feedback is often uncomfortable and requires lots of practice before it becomes second nature.
  • 1-on-1s. These weekly recurring meetings are the heart of good management communication and are, luckily, fairly easy to run well once you know what to do.
  • Productivity. If you aren’t already a time management pro, you’d better become one, or you will be lost in the whirlwind of everyday management.