Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: The First 90 Days

July 2020

"The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter" by Michael Watkins 

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 

Possibly our most reccommended title to date by guests of the Path Podcast, The First 90 Days is a classic, essential read for readers interested in maximizing the three-month transition period at the start of a new job. This title, coined "the onboardng bible" by the Economist, is a handy guide for anyone who has taken a new job and wants to make sure theyre doing everything right, maximizing the introductory period, making the transition as smooth as possible, and ensuring that you and your employers' expectations are aligned for this new phase of your life. Whether you've just accepted a new job or imagine that you will in the near future, The First 90 Days is a helpful tool for self assessment and maximizing your relationship to your colleagues and your workplace. 

This title was recommended by Mike Blackwelder, Shannon Hinson, Jim Taylor, Adam Cook, and Cheryl Richards


1. Take a hard look at yourself. Don't rest on your laurels after you arrive. Assess yourself, make sure you are aware of your strengths and faults. Figure out what are the most important things you need to learn in the short term, and focus on that. Clarifying your vision in terms of professional goals can help save you from getting overwhelmed by incoming tasks. Make sure you follow through with your own goals and the expectations for your role: practice self efficacy, personal discipline, and respond well to advice and counsel. 

2. Figure out who is around you. When it comes to starting a new job, a key component is figuring out the climate and who are the key players. Maximize this new opportunity for networking. Build your team, create a unifying framework, and achieve alignment. Whose support is critical right now in this new context? Who are your networks of influence? Make sure you have met with your boss to clarify expectations and confirm their situational diagnosis, working style, resources, and of course, your 90-day plan.

3. Determine your plan. Figuring out your short-term goals can be the key to developing the more personal and meaningful long-term plans. Figure out how you can match your strategy to the situation. Is this organization a start up? A turn around? A realignment? Or simply one to sustain? Figure that out first!

New to Nonprofit? Check out this guide by PMA's Mike Blackwelder for all those new to or considering the sector hoping to hit the ground running. 

Dr. Michael D. Watkins is a Canadian author and leading expert on accelerating transitions. Most notably, his works include the international best seller The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies, and Master Your Next Move.