First 90 Days

5 Things To Avoid Doing At Your New Job (part 4)


You already know three things to avoid doing at your new job, they are:

Here’s the fourth thing!

4. Feeling It’s Your Boss’ Responsibility to Build A Productive Working Relationship With You

You’ve just joined the team and the thrill of new work challenges causes dopamine to shoot to your brain. You’re feeling on top of the world!

It would be pretty easy to become self-focused as you learn all about your new role, what is expected of you, and what challenges you face on a regular basis.

Catch yourself before you become so focused on yourself that you lose sight of one of your all-important responsibilities - building an effective working relationship with your boss!

The relationship you build or don’t build with your boss is going to be one of the single biggest contributors to you doing well in your new role.

Manage this key relationship well and your career (and probably life) will be a ton easier!  

But hear me out before you start to tune out!

I am not saying you need to respond to every single request of your boss within 30 seconds of when he or she asks. I am not saying that you need to put aside your self-respect to meet their overbearing demands.

Rather, what I am saying is that the interview process is like the dating relationship with your boss, and now that you’re on the bus, this is marriage.

Proactively and positively manage your relationship with your boss or it will manage you.

Think of it as a 300 lb German Shepherd - you’ll want to feed it, walk it, and play with it now and again. And if you don’t, you’ll be like one of those young kids you see trying to pull one of those monsters on a leash. You’ll be dragged and jerked in every direction.

So what are you to do?

Here are 7 simple ways to build a relationship with your boss:


#1 Believe the best. Don’t believe, like Michael Scott, that “boss” is just slang for Jerk In Charge.

#2 Build enduring trust. David Horsager’s book, The Trust Edge, outlines eight pillars necessary to build lasting relationships with others. Check it out here.

#3 Follow skillfully. Much is written about leadership; little is written about the other side of leadership, followership. Follow these rules closely.

#4 Lead up well. Use the strategies in this book to effectively manage your manager so that you both win!

#5 Stay out of drama triangles. Not sure what I mean? Watch this video to learn how to do avoid the drama and do the work.

#6 Avoid the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE). What do I mean? To quote Wikipedia, “In social psychology, the Fundamental Attribution Error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is people’s tendency to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics to explain someone’s else’s behavior in a given situation, rather than considering external factors.”

Essentially, consider external factors before assuming people are just mean, selfish, or out to get you.

#7 Communicate good news fast and bad news faster. While it’s unlikely that your boss wields the power of the dark side like Darth Vader, communicate openly and in a timely manner.

What about you? How have you built a successful relationship with your boss? Sign up here for more helpful career strategies and tips!



After reading the first two parts of “5 Things To Avoid Doing At Your New Job”, you know that thinking your hardest work is behind you and focusing on the technical side of your job are both things you want to avoid at your new job. To read the first two parts in this series, click on the links below -

In today’s post, we talk about the third thing you want to avoid doing at your new job.

3. Prescribing “THE” solution too quickly

Your new job is a welcome challenge. You’re over the moon that you were hired to solve the problems your employer faces. This is going to be awesome!

You’re eager to start delivering immense amounts of value on day one and because of this, it’s easy to want to jump in with “THE” solution to all of the challenges you see the business facing.

Whoa - slow down a minute!

Resist the urge of jumping to conclusions too quickly.

This can spell disaster for you, your boss, and your team.

Avoid this type of thinking and behavior at all costs because it usually leads to failure and your credibility can take a huge hit - one that’s more difficult to recover from because everything at work is brand, spanking new for you.

Instead, approach your first 90 days on the job from a learning stance.

Think of yourself as a doctor or a lawyer.

Before a doctor prescribes a treatment, he’ll do a physical examination to ensure he understands the symptoms and possible root causes of a patient’s health challenges.

Similarly, any lawyer worth their salt is going to spend time combing over the details of her client’s case before deciding on a courtroom strategy.

You want to take the very same strategy.

Focus on understanding the unique problems that your organization faces before you prescribe Nyquil to cure organizational pneumonia. You want to be sure that your solution actually solves the problem.

Okay James, I’m convinced that this is the strategy that I want to take and I understand that I need to understand the unique challenges that I face at work, but where do I start?

I’m glad you asked!

First, take a moment to assess the overall organizational contexts you find yourself in using the STARS framework.

Why do you want to do this?

Because each stage of organizational growth and development presents its own set of challenges and opportunities and you want to ensure that you are matching your strategy to meet the situation you face.

What are the five contexts organizations find themselves in?

Now that you’ve identified which business context you find yourself in -

Second, compare and contrast corporate and departmental contexts.

Reflect on the portfolio of products or services your business has and identify which of the five different contexts each of its products or services are in.

In other words, let’s say for example that the company you joined is in Sustaining Success mode. And perhaps you are a part of the company’s product development team which is in the process of launching several products in the next 12 - 18 months - in Start-Up mode.

What this means for you is that you’re likely going to experience the rub between the overarching business context and the one that you face in your department.

This is very good information that you can leverage to your advantage.

It can help you and your team anticipate the unique challenges you’ll face when communicating interdepartmentally and to the C-suite and develop strategies that enable you to clear those hurdles with ease, building your credibility and ultimately your career success!

Third, conduct strategic interviews.

The colleagues at your new job have the experience and information that is key to your understanding of the unique challenges the business faces. You want to tap into their expertise.

How do you do this? Interview them.

In fact, if you want to be exceptionally savvy in your first 90 days on the job, it’s a good idea to interview a cross-section of people when you first join the company.

Interviewing executives, vice presidents, directors, managers, and your direct reports enables you to gain an understanding of the shared and divergent views in your organization and can give you unique insight into the problems that exist.

Here are some questions you can use during this interview phase, divided into three categories:


  • How do you think this company has performed in the past? What makes you think that?
  • How were corporate goals set in the past? Were they right on point, overly optimistic, or not ambitious enough?
  • How were goals measured in the past? How did these measurements impact employee performance for the better or worse?


  • What is the organization’s current vision? What is the strategy to achieve that vision?
  • How in line with the vision and strategy are the current products and projects?
  • Who makes key business decisions? Who are the important stakeholders?
  • What are the key processes and methodologies?
  • What do I need to be aware of politically to avoid making missteps or damaging my credibility?


  • In the next 12 months, what are the biggest challenges that this company faces?
  • What are the biggest business opportunities you see on the horizon?
  • What elements of the organizational culture are getting in the way of its progress?
  • What else do I need to know?

If you’ve found this information helpful, please leave a comment below and share this post with just one person you think would benefit from it.

Look for the fourth part of “5 Things To Avoid Doing At Your New Job” coming in early December.