Tanya Ramlagan looks at how to make the first 90 days count

Tanya Ramlagan shares tips on creating success in the early days of a new role.

Bravo Brands Group Chief Human Resources Officer Tanya Ramlagan says first impressions create lasting impressions and the first 90 days in a new role present the opportunity to set the tone for your tenure.

In June 2021, Tanya took up her current role, which was new to the business. She was tasked with building the human resource structures and approach that will support the company’s growth and expansion strategy.

Why the first 90 days are so crucial
Tanya says this transitionary period is important because, “If you want to be successful and ensure the team is excited and wants to go on the journey with you, it is important that you do not start with pre-conceived ideas and pre-determined strategies.” She advises new appointees to use the time to learn and understand the business, pointing out that the first couple of months are the best time to ask every possible questionas no one expects you to know anything.

She says that even though she had experience in manufacturing, she realised that the furniture industry would present its own challenges and nuances that she would need to grasp quickly to add value.

She says, “However, this was the least of my challenges. A phenomenon I have not witnessed in my career is the tenure of the individuals in the business. In my first senior leader session, I was in the presence of three people who had more than a 100 years of combined experience in the industry.” She shares that she was able leverage this institutional knowledge to build a basic understanding of the industry and the business. “I continuously tap into this invaluable experience when new challenges arise,” she says.

Tanya’s current role includes a large industrial relations element with 90 percent of the workforce being members of a union, which requires focus and attention.

She says, “My knowledge and skills in union negotiations needed refreshing after spending the previous four years in a corporate environment. I am fortunate to have the support of Dave Govender, our CEO, who helped me successfully navigate my first union negotiation a month into the role.”

Top three lessons from this experience
Because the third wave of Covid-19 infections hit South Africa a week before she started, the business resumed its 100% work from home policies. Tanya says that she learned that flexibility and agility are critical.

“When joining Bravo Brands, I had a framework for my first 90 days built on face-to-face interactions, and it would have been a disaster if I had not been able to adjust my approach very quickly. My most significant learning is that it is possible to start a new role virtually and be successful,” she says.

She says other important lessons were that you must bring the whole individual to work and that you need to allow the business to meet the real you to build authentic, long-lasting relationships.

Tanya successfully led a strategy session with her team after 90 days and says it was the first time she met some of the team members face-to-face since she had joined.

It was vastly different from her previous three roles where her team was always based in Gauteng and she was able to interact with them individually or as a team personally on a daily basis, or as required. Her team at Bravo Brands is spread across KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Gauteng.

“This session allowed me to assemble the entire senior team and interact with them at once. The team’s energy and enthusiasm is exceptional as everyone is looking forward to embarking on the new strategic direction of Bravo Brands,” she says.