The First 90 Days in Government

Critical Success Strategies for New Public Managers at All Levels

by Peter H. Daly , Michael Watkins , Cate Reavis

Number of pages: 272

Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press

BBB Library: Leadership, Politics and Public Affairs

ISBN: 9781591399551

About the Authors

Peter H. Daly : Peter H. Daly is a former federal executive agency head and


Michael Watkins : Michael Watkins is a Professor of Practice at INSEAD and founder


Cate Reavis : Cate Reavis is an Associate Director, working on Curriculum Development at


Editorial Review

To strive and fail to be chosen for a leadership role is painful; to strive and succeed can be downright intimidating. Why? Because taking a new role means leaving behind the confines of what you know how to do well and embarking on an often uncomfortable journey of personal development. Or it may mean moving from a specialized role to a general manager position responsible for overseeing several different functions. Often, a promotion means leaving one agency and moving to another, confronting you with the need to adapt to an entirely new culture and to acquire new knowledge and build new relationships to get things done. So, while you probably are excited about being selected for your new position, you rightly may be apprehensive about how you will meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Book Reviews

"The authors boil down strategies for new managers to go on the offensive and quickly gain productivity. Key among them are securing early wins and building a team and alliances from the first day, particularly in a post-election climate with many new faces. Those more experienced in the commercial world will learn that in this playing field, spectators are "noisier and more contentious," and "results are often ambiguous and take time to emerge; one often is left wondering whether the outcome was a win or a loss." Other differences between both sectors are their respective definitions of success and who they hold accountable."

"If you’ve started a new position, transitioned into a new role, or planning on making a move in the near future, I’d recommend reading , “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels” by Michael Watkins. Michael Watkins is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School."

Books on Related Topics

Wisdom to Share

Transitions are times of opportunity and vulnerability.

Because no other single relationship is more important, you need to figure out how to build a productive working relationship with your new boss and understand their expectations.

Your organization’s culture consists of the norms and values that shape team members’ behavior, attitudes and expectations and cues them about what to not do and do.

Take performance evaluations seriously.

Make sure that everyone understands your expectations regarding job performance.

Initiate regular performance discussions with each employee that cover in specific terms their successes and shortcomings against the performance plan.

If you fail to establish clear boundaries that define what you are and are not willing to do, the people around you (bosses, peers, subordinates) will take whatever you have to give.