How to make impact in a new L&D role in your first 100 days

By Ross Stevenson

3 minute read

Starting a new job can be overwhelming.

You have new people to meet, ways of working to navigate and tools to learn. This is no different for a modern L&D professional. And, you can’t dodge the full emotional rollercoaster either.

I’m going through this process at Filtered right now.

I know the first 100 days in a new role is a crucial time.

It’s kind of the feeling out stage where you’re confirming if you made the right move and your new employer is doing the same thing. 

In my experience, the typical workplace learning landscape can be like a minefield.

You often find yourself trying to carefully navigate your new playing field without getting blown-up (figuratively, not literally, of course).

I’m pretty sure you want to make a big impression and become one of the cool kids in your team. To do this, you need a plan. Not just any plan though. You need a plan to accelerate your impact and brand in the first 100 days.

Don’t worry, I got you.

Let’s explore the 5-step blueprint to setting you up for success.

1. Ask questions, lots of questions

Right now, you know nothing, and that’s not a bad thing (unless you’re Jon Snow in Game of Thrones).

You’re in a new place with new people, working on a new challenge.

You have the advantage of a beginner's mindset here. Embrace your time as a student. This is the get-out-of-jail-free card space to ask any type of question.

A lot of L&D (like most jobs) is about relationships.

Meeting people lets you learn about how things work and don’t work today. This is the time to start building key relationships and your internal network.

Here’s a little question template to help you maximise these conversations.

  1. Can you tell me about your journey and your role here?
  2. What’s your view of L&D today?
  3. What’s worked and perhaps not worked?
  4. What advice would you give me?
  5. How can I add value to you and your team?

2. Get clear on your company strategy

If there’s one thing I cannot scream from the rooftops enough. It is to deeply understand your company’s strategy.

I’ve never understood why L&D teams don’t know their company strategy.

This is a sin in my book.

You won't get far in creating a high-performing L&D function that delivers value if it’s not connected to your company strategy. You might as well pack your bags now if that’s the case.

To support your company you need to understand it at all levels.

  • Why does it exist?
  • What drives its purpose?
  • How does it make money?
  • What value does it deliver?

Workplace L&D becomes an afterthought when it does not align with a company’s strategy and goals.

Get this right from day one to maximise your impact.

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3. Make friends with key players

We all need a little help from friends sometimes.

Now is your perfect opportunity to break bread with key players in your organisation.

Don't make the mistake of being a solo player. You will not win. As we covered earlier, L&D is about relationships.

Build relationships with these teams to help you do more:

  • Your People Team: Leverage the eyes and ears of the business to collect data.
  • Your Marketing Team: Use insights from attention-grabbing experts to build awareness of your work.
  • Your Technology Team: The people who can help you 10x most tasks you do.
  • Your Finance team: The old masters of money. They police your budget, so be kind.

4. Analyse the L&D function of today

You’ve probably seen the negative effects of making too many changes too fast without understanding the current context.

This can happen easily in the L&D world too.

As with the points above, you can’t make any decisions until you know what you’re working with. You might have inherited a lot of great stuff. So you’ll be in the enviable position of not needing to make a lot of, if any, change.

My advice to you is don't break stuff if it’s working just because.

That’s not the kind of impression you want to make. Take this time to review current products and services. Assess the good, bad and ugly. 

Then make your decisions from a place of data.

5. Share your plan

This is the last point as it’s the task you should tackle in the last 10 days of your 100 day window.

Once you’ve talked the ears off your new colleagues, amassed data and had time to reflect. It’s time to share how you’ll add value to the L&D team and business going forward.

You have 2 advantages in sharing your plan publicly:

  1. You have a clear path to delivering value aligned with your business goals.
  2. Everyone else in the company knows what you’re busy working on. Great for brand awareness.

Btw, this plan doesn’t need to be set in stone.

It will flex as you learn more about your environment and adapt to any curveballs. At this stage, these are more the observations, ideas and reflections that you feel will add value to the L&D function.

Ok, you’ve made it my friend.

Now go forth and drive value in your new role like the L&D saviour you are.

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