Starting a new job is tough. You are going to have to deal with new people, new systems, a new culture, new objectives, basically everything you do is brand new. The difference between making this new career move a success or failure depends a lot on your first few months. If the first few months do not go well, its likely you are going to be looking for a new role sooner rather than later. Either voluntarily or not so voluntarily. So, what can you do to make sure that you really set yourself up for success?
The first week
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, your first week is crucial to make sure you get off on the right foot, as you navigate your new place of work. Introductions are key. You have the perfect excuse to introduce yourself to literally everybody in the company. Relationships are very important when starting a new role. You are going to need help, and so the more people you know, the easier it is going to be to figure things out. You should ask your boss to arrange for you to meet all key stakeholders as part of your onboarding, and when attending meetings, ask for a few minutes at the beginning or end, to just introduce yourself to the wider group. Most firms will also assign you a buddy, who should be able to introduce you to people. If you don’t have a buddy, find one quickly who you can have lunch or coffee with.
The other key aspect of your first week, is to ask as many questions as possible. Research has shown that a difference between high performers and low performers is the number of questions they ask when starting a new role. Think about it logically, in your first week, no one expects you to know anything. So, it’s the perfect time to ask as many questions as you can. No question can be silly, as you have never worked there before, you know absolutely nothing. Take advantage and find out everything you can to help put you in the best position. If you do not do this at the beginning and wait 6 months to ask something, people are going to wonder why you didn’t know it after 6 months.
The first month
Your first month should be firmly focused on building relationships with your team. After all, you are only as good as the team you have to support you, and if you don’t have good relationships within it, you are not going to get anything done easily. Remember, people work in different ways, some will be formal, some informal. Some focused on the big picture and others on small details. Remember to adapt your style accordingly.
You should also sit down with your manager in your first few weeks and define what success looks like. You should aim to understand your managers preferred communication style and how they will assess your performance. Are they looking for operational excellence or strategic thinking and new ideas? You should also think about the type of support you will need in order to deliver these goals.
The first 3 months
An important thing to remember during your first few months, is that your behavior during this time sets the expectations moving forward. It is incredibly important to use this time to set boundaries. If you stay late and work to 7 or 8pm during the first few months, people are going to expect that you stay late all the time. If you go home at 6pm every day to spend time with your family, they will also expect this. This also applies to extra projects, doing favours etc. The more accommodating you are, the more this is going to be expected as standard, meaning people may end up taking advantage.
Finally, its incredibly important to sit down with your boss and have a 3-month review. Its important to understand what has gone well in the first 3 months and what can be improved. Along with setting goals and expectations for the rest of the year.