The Second 90 Days: Four Ways to Continue Your Onboarding Success

So much is written about the first 90 days of a leader's new role and thankfully so, as those first three months can be especially critical in getting acclimated to your new role and making a great first impression. That said, as an executive coach helping senior leaders on-board, I've found that the months that follow the first 90 are an especially -- and often more vulnerable -- time.

In the first 90 days, most folks are in heightened observation mode, engaged in critical one on ones with key stakeholders and socializing potential goals. Many leaders come out of this time with a much better sense of things -- what one client described as going from "one to five inches deeper" on the business, their team's capabilities, and the web of informal dynamics and relationships at hand.

And, while awareness brings great knowledge and insight -- after the first 90 days, the rubber begins to really meet the road. Below, are four ways to help continue your momentum into the second 90 days:

1. Have Your Eye Out for Your Successor. Successor? You just started in your new role. By having a mindset of making sure you have the strongest "Lieutenant table" possible, you ensure that your team can rally behind your vision and achieve collective goals. Onboarding into a new role often means you've inherited a new team or you're now managing folks who were once your peers. Think in terms of organizational capabilities -- how will you best leverage the strengths of your team? What are the capability gaps? What resources might you need to ask for down the road? Get ahead of the curve. One C-level client came out of the first 90 days realizing he had a great direct report team but a significant leadership gap one level down from that. He spent a good part of his first year putting into place development opportunities for two levels below to build the overall capacity of his function.

2. Bring Your Voice to the Table. In the first 90 days, it may be completely appropriate to have more of an 'observers' stance especially with your new boss and his team you're now a part of. Getting a sense of the players at the table and building an appropriate trust and rapport with other peers can lay the foundation for key relationships. Be careful not to stay here for too long. CEO sponsors of executive coaching have shared after the first 90 days, the leader can now afford to -- and should start to -- weigh in more, be heard from, and bring the value-add the organization hoped from you as either an internal promotion or external hire.

3. Get Closure on the Past. We often think of onboarding as all about the future. Onboarding, even into a role that we're excited for, is similar to any other transition in life. The "honeymoon period" comes to an end. In the second 90 days reality sets in. I've sat in the office of clients who shared remorse or became reminiscent of their past in month five of the new role. This can be especially true if you moved to a new location for the job, changed industries, or lost a team you were especially tied to. It's important during this time to acknowledge your losses and allow yourself time to adjust. And, critically important to create a plan for how to stay connected to former colleagues that were vital parts of your career to date.

4. Extend Your 90 Day Goals into Yearly Milestones. Don't lose sight of the bigger picture. At the end of your first 90 days, look at the goals you set for yourself during this first three month period. Look at each goal -- what would success look like against your initial priorities at the one year mark? Three year mark? One client set as a 90 day goal making "in-roads" with a key part of the organization. She then turned that into a one year milestone by broadening the goal to become part of a key cross functional leadership team heavily dominated by that group.

One of the best parts of my job as an executive coach is being a part of a client's successful first 90 days; and even better, when you see them turn that into a great, impactful first year on the job.

How was your last on-boarding experience? How did you continue the momentum into the second 90 days?

I'd love to hear about your own stories or thoughts on "the second 90 days". Please write your suggestions here in the comments section, tweet me at @amyjensu or send an email to our firm, Isis Associates.