Ever since Franklin Delano Roosevelt set his first 100 days as a benchmark for his presidency, every U.S. presidents’ first 100 days on the job have been reviewed, scrutinized, graded and critiqued.
In his first 100 days, Roosevelt signed 76 bills into law, swore in his entire cabinet and rolled out the New Deal. His range of accomplishments in such a short time is the yardstick against which all presidents are measured.
But if U.S. presidents are the only employees who get a “report card” after 100 days on the job, they shouldn’t be, says Vicki Salemi, career expert for Monster.com.
“New hires aren’t expected to know all they need to know in their first 100 days on the job,” says Salemi. But, she adds, knowing what they’ve accomplished and where they need more development is essential.
Stacking up against the presidents
Monster, the online jobs-search engine, asked in a survey: “What is the most important thing an employee should do in the first 100 days at a new job?” Here are the answers and what they mean in “presidents-speak”:
- Understanding the expectations of your role (64% of 3,074 respondents) = Know what voters want.
- Finding your friends/allies (0.73% of 35) = Who’s going to be in your cabinet.
- Getting to know your team (6.41% of 308) = Understand the people in the current administration.
- Learning more about the company/organization and other departments you’ll be working with (27.44% of 1,318) = understand how government/other areas, such as Congress, work.
- None of the above (1.42% of 68) = (Voters could be looking at a one-term president.)
Preparing for 100 days of reflection
Progressive HR managers are encouraging employees to take control of their careers in their current positions and beyond. HR departments are forwarding staff-development programs and training sessions to help employees set goals and plan strategies for advancing their careers for a lifetime. One way employees can take control is through self-assessments.
A 100-day yardstick is merely an arbitrary marker, but it’s enough time for self-reflection and analysis. Self-assessment is about being proactive, Saleml says. The 100-day mark is a good time for new hires to talk with their managers about what they’ve accomplished so far, what they could be doing differently, and what skills and knowledge they need but currently lack.
New hires must note milestones and other key information in their first 100 days in preparation for the meeting with their manager. But what if the manager isn’t used to new hires taking the initiative to discuss their performance before being summoned to the traditional six-month appraisal? And what if the new hire wants to bring up sensitive topics, such as promises the employer made that should have transpired by the 100-day mark? Salemi advises new hires to open the conversation with an ice-breaker to cut through any tension, but also to be honest.
“If, for example, the employer promised three work-at-home days a week but is allowing telecommuting on only Fridays, the new hire should tell the manager that the original deal was a major attraction to the job,” says Salemi. She stresses that the new hire should come to the meeting with solutions and that the discussion should focus on goals going forward.
What should new hires do when the job isn’t what they expected? Or they realize in the first 100 days that they’re not up to the task?
“People often wait too long when they need to move on,” says Salemi. “If a workplace is toxic, it won’t likely change. New hires should be prepared to leave.”
Evaluating the first 100 days
HR can prepare new hires for their 100-day assessment. Salemi recommends that HR share these strategies:
Review the job expectations. If there’s a disconnect between the job and the role new hires accepted, they should develop a list of concerns and questions to discuss with their managers. Managers should do the same.
Identify challenges. When new hires’ skills and performance are challenged, they should work with their manager to create an action plan that identifies areas for development. Turning a weakness into a strength can be leveraged during the review, or viewed as an accomplishment when it’s time to take the next career step.
Evaluate the culture. New hires should consider how they’re assimilating into a company’s culture. They can ask for advice in how they might fit in. If the culture isn’t a good fit, an employer should take note of why that may be and what the employee brings up.
Leverage relationships. New hires can assess key relationships they’ve made within the company so far and how those relationships are aiding their overall growth. Gaining experience working with people in different departments can provide a better understanding of the company. Forming these relationships now could serve as networking opportunities in the future.