Mistakes and Successes: The First 100 Days

The day is here—your first day on a new job! Your emotions are a mix of resourcefulness and anxiousness with a high degree of enthusiasm. You left for work on time and showed up at least 15 minutes early with packed nutritious snacks and water so they are at hand when needed. You brought a personal item or two for your desk space. Your attire fits in with the culture and you walk with a smile of openness and confidence. How you show up for the first day, and the next 99 days, sets the tone for your success.

Show up ready: Arrive in plenty of time to do whatever you need to before the start of the work day; manage traffic and parking, use the restroom, pour coffee, and say hello. Be ready at your space at least five minutes early rather than walking in at the start time and taking 15 minutes before earning your new salary!

Dress for success: Be neat, conservative, and, perhaps, dress for the job you want next after you demonstrate success with this new one.

Extend: Be proactive. Introduce yourself. Offer a firm handshake with a smile and direct eye contact. Ask insightful questions of people you meet about their roles, lengths with the company, and other topics of interest. There will be lots of questions about you—where you went to school, what you studied, where you live, what’s your favorite sports team, and so on. Your job is to be ready to ask them questions, too. Check out coworkers on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter and pay attention to personal items in their office areas.

Moving past the first day’s introductions, find out more about your role and responsibilities.

  • What are the key areas of success?
  • How is success defined?
  • What are the timeframes and milestones for projects?
  • What resources are available?
  • Who are your key internal and external stakeholders? How do they prefer to coordinate and communicate? (Ask them!)
  • What do you know and what do you need to learn? How will you find out?
  • Inquire regarding the social media norms.
  • Meet with your supervisor. Discuss the frequency and form of check-ins for effective communication.

The most obvious failures of new managers in the first 100 days are typically not intentional.

  • Assuming too much. Not asking enough questions to understand the organization’s background, philosophy, and historical actions.
  • Making changes without understanding the current organization.
  • Expecting an immediate promotion.
  • Not completing projects.
  • Sloppy work.
  • Poor communication.
  • Ineffective relationship building.

Strategically plan your time so your attention and energy are best used. Make a time guideline and adjust as necessary. Be intentional about what is needed at the end of your first 100 days. For example, if you have an open-door policy, be aware of the unintended consequences of micro interruptions.  Another idea is to, after the first 30 days, post your open office hours, say 9 am to 10 am and/or 2 pm to 4 pm.  Encourage direct reports to set up appointments, even if for ten to 15 minutes. A great time and priority idea is to have a standing check in meeting every day at the same time.  Schedule the daily check in within 10 minutes of the start of the work day.  If work starts at 8 am, schedule the check in for 8:10 – 8:25 a.m. Each person states what their priority is and any requests or shifts needed.  This check in is ideal for collaborative opportunities later in the day, too.   Hallways and kitchens are perfect for a daily standing check in.  Stay away from the hum drum bring your coffee cup and settle in a conference chair routine.


Once you understand the organization needs and your role, your energy and attention will shift to increase strategic thinking and planning. Keep track of how much you really do and what can be delegated to develop others and best use your time as a strategic leader. For C Suite executives, we encourage 20-25% of unencumbered time for your visioning, studying, reading, assessing, and planning. Too often, new managers spend most of their time digging into their own work and falling behind in connecting with others to create success for all stakeholders.

Lastly, check your assumptions and verify what success needs to look like from multiple perspectives. Start with the most significant and keep open communications with stakeholders.  The first 100 days are an exciting and inspiring springboard to a fantastic career.

Deedee Myers, PhD. MSC, PCC