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7 Min Read

Starting a New Job in HR? Here are 3 Do’s and Don’ts for the First 90 Days 

Nicole Klemp

Whether you’re brand new to HR or a seasoned leader starting with a new organization, making a good first impression with your new team goes a long way. 

What you do in your first 90 days shows what you’re capable of and lays the foundation for what you’ll accomplish in the months and years to come. Nobody expects you to come in and transform the HR org in a matter of weeks, but by listening, learning, and adding value for your team, you’ll be well on your way to long-term success.

To help you prepare, we’ve put together three “do’s” and three “don’ts” for a strong start in your new role.

Do your homework before the first day

When you were preparing for your interview with the company, did you do some research and prepare thoughtful questions for your interviewers? Of course you did! You wouldn’t have gotten the job if you didn’t. Well, bringing that same level of preparation is an excellent way to make a great impression on your first day. 

Take what you’ve already learned about the organization and role through the interview process and expand on your research. Learn more about the industry (especially if it’s new to you), and find out what the company has been up to lately. 

If you feel it’s appropriate, ask your hiring manager if there are any internal documents they could send you to review before you start, such as the company’s strategic vision, messaging, values, goals and strategies, etc. Studying this information can give you a feel for the work environment you’re going into and help you feel more confident when you start. It may also help you get onboarded and ramped up more quickly.

Don’t stress yourself out (and DO prioritize self-care)

Starting a new job is stressful enough, but with the increasingly high demands on HR professionals today, you face an even higher risk of workplace burnout. You undoubtedly want to start on the right foot in your new role, and you might feel extra pressure to really be “on” in those first few weeks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be at the top of your game, but to do so, you must prioritize self-care

To be your best self at work and bring a positive attitude, you need to be well-rested and not have too many things on your plate, personally or professionally. Take plenty of time for calming activities like exercise or meditation, and establish boundaries between work and your home life right off the bat.

If you ever feel overwhelmed or think your mental health might be suffering, speak to a mental health provider. There is no shame in asking for help, and they’re trained to help you develop coping strategies and recommend potential treatment options if needed. 

Joining a community of peers can also be a great way to talk through challenges and build new connections. (15Five’s HR Superstars community is a supportive group of professionals who regularly connect to discuss the most important HR issues today.) 

Don’t get ahead of yourself

Are you super excited to start your new gig and can’t wait to dive in and make an impact? That’s great! However, it’s important to remember that the first 30 days in a new role are all about listening and learning. You need a more thorough understanding of your new organization before jumping in and making changes. 

If you enter into a new company or position and act like you already have all the answers, you risk coming off as arrogant or offending your new team members. While they may agree with some of your ideas, they’ve been in the organization longer, and the problems they’ve been trying to solve may be a lot more complicated than you’re aware of.

The first few months in your role aren’t about coming in and saving the day. It’s a time for observing, asking questions, and listening to your coworkers. Learn about the challenges they’ve been facing and the solutions they’ve already tried. You’ll be in a better position to help when you have the whole story. 

Do get to know your new team and learn how they do things

We may start sounding like a broken record now, but the importance of listening and learning in the first three months cannot be overstated. Whether you’ll be joining (or leading) an existing HR team or building the function from the ground up, there’s a lot to learn about how the company has managed people operations thus far.

Dive into the current HR processes, tools, and tech stack. By learning about the existing capabilities and limitations, you can identify gaps in strategy, processes, technology, or personnel. Talk to the team about their current roles, expectations, and what they need to be successful. Even if you’re not a decision-maker on things like technology or hiring, showing an interest in current and future needs gives you credibility and may earn you the chance to influence important decisions down the road.

In addition to learning everything there is to know about the people and company culture, strategic HR leaders understand the business side of things too. Here are a few basic questions you should be able to answer within the first 90 days in your new role:

  • What industry does your company operate in? 
  • Who is the ideal customer? 
  • How does the business make money? 
  • How has the company evolved over time?
  • What are the top business goals? (e.g., OKRs
  • What does the company hope to accomplish in the next quarter/year?

As you learn about your company’s internal structures and how each function and team work together, take the time to personally engage with folks both inside and outside of HR. Making an effort to build relationships now will help you establish yourself in the organization and can pay off later when you need cross-functional support for new initiatives. 

Do set goals and get early wins

As you learn more about your company and the team’s long-term and short-term goals, you can start to formulate ways to personally contribute. Setting some realistic (yet still ambitious) objectives gives you a roadmap to becoming a high performer. 

If there are opportunities to make an immediate impact with some early wins (without stepping on any toes) or to help the team reach a collective goal, take those chances to establish yourself and demonstrate your value. 

In addition to role-specific professional development goals, you may also benefit from setting self-development objectives for personal growth. A self-development objective is focused on your personal development and can be anything from learning a second language to becoming a better public speaker. The more you grow personally and professionally, the more successful you’ll be in your role.

Don’t miss this guide to rocking your first 90 days

But wait… there’s more! We created a strategic guide that’s chock-full of expert guidance, checklists, and actionable tips to help you succeed in your new HR role in the first, second, and third months—and beyond. 

You’ll get:

  • Tips for what to do before day 1
  • Action items for months 1, 2, and 3
  • Guidance about what to focus on for long-term impact
  • Employee recognition best practices
  • Common pitfalls to avoid in the first 90 days

Get the guide >