The First 90 Days: Strategies that Work

the first 90 days

A little over 90 days ago I transitioned from the Division of Student Affairs into my new role as Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Even though I remained at the same institution, I have learned a lot about myself through this process, including a new appreciation for coffee. Although there are many resources that tell you what you should be doing during your first 90 days, I thought I’d share six strategies that helped me along the way. Enjoy!

  1. Focus on the One Thing: One day I randomly picked up a book to read to my son called The One Thing by Gary Keller. There are many great points in this book, but one that resonated with me early on was, “It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel the need to do too many things in the time we have.” I often talk about being strategic in my time management and decision making, but this book provided me with a clear blueprint to make this happen.
  2. Responsiveness is Golden: Similar to any person in a new role, there has been a lot for me to learn. I’m learning about new processes and tasks I’m not familiar with, as well as historical information to provide better context regarding decisions that have been made. Learning takes time, so to supplement my learning curve I focused on being extremely responsive. When I’m unable to find an answer within 24 hours, I will respond with status updates so others feel acknowledged and heard.
  3. Build Trust through Transparency: Likewise, I’ve continued my commitment to transparency. This is especially true when it came to describing processes and helping others understand how decisions are made. I believe this approach lessens anxiety and serves as a great development tool for others. One added benefit is that people are able to identify gaps in the process, which allow you to be proactive in addressing issues early.
  4. Prepare for Imposter Battles: By now you’ve probably gathered that I am a firm believer in the imposter syndrome and while I’d like to report that I’ve overcome this issue, the truth is that it’s a constant battle. My imposter feelings are triggered by all types of things and my strategies for managing it vary, but overall I think I’ve had more wins that losses. So far I’ve found the best way to confront the issue is to start by acknowledging the issue as soon as it arises.
  5. Find Your Vault: There are lots of feelings that come with stepping into a new role. Prior to transitioning into this role I identified a vault who understood my duties enough to have useful conversations with, but also wouldn’t allow me to use them as a crutch. My vault has been both a support person when I’m feeling insecure or overwhelmed, as well as someone I can call when I need to celebrate a small win.
  6. Research Everything: When you step into a new role you’ll be bombarded with people who want to make their suggestions about things that need to change or stay the same. You’ll also bring in your own experiences and bias about the way things should be done. To counteract this I attempted to find the official source of nearly everything to ensure I wasn’t continuing practices that may be outdated or incorrect.


Here are three bonus tips for those transitioning into roles within the same organization.

  1. Make New Friends: Although you may know many of the people you work with, try to reestablish this relationship based on your new responsibilities. This doesn’t mean you should cut ties with old friends, but new roles may require new relationships.
  2. Find a New Parking Spot: Since I transitioned into a new role within the same organization I decided to change my parking habits. This small change helped me disconnect from my previous role and responsibilities and enhanced the newness (and excitement) associated with my new role.
  3. Return to your Anchor: Each of us adapt to the environments we are in so when you transition within an organization considering doing a reset. Take some time to revisit your why (why you do what you do) and how you can be an even better version of yourself.


Do you have other strategies that have worked? Share them below in the comments!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Paulina says:

    I too transitioned into a new role about 6 months ago. Many of your points resonate with me! thanks for sharing! For me, I had to be mindful of my pace. In a new role, many people tend to be so excited and want to make a difference. We have so many ideas but it’s important to pump the breaks on your excitement and truly understand the culture or group and THEIR needs before trying to implement the ideas YOU think would be best.


    1. theasrtouch says:

      That is so true! I’ve definitely been guilty of trying to do too many things at once or moving too quickly. Understanding the culture and assessing their needs is definitely a great strategy.


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