Congrats! You nailed your interviews, received a job offer and negotiated your contract terms. Your first day is approaching, and you can’t wait to get started.
Just as you did the work to get ready for the interview and negotiation process, the first few months of a new gig require the same level of learning and groundwork — preparation that will not only contribute to your personal success in the role but also help to start you off on the right foot with your leader and coworkers.
Set your strategy with these six tips:
1. Do your research.
During your interview process, you probably did the work to conduct some initial research into the company and your team — and many companies have some form of employee onboarding that will walk you through a high-level overview of the company’s mission and offerings.
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However, I’m encouraging you to take a deeper dive. Between LinkedIn and your new company’s website, you should be able to find plenty of employee bios, stats about the company’s history and how it operates, information on corporate social responsibility and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, and more. Refreshing your memory — and getting acquainted with the details — can help you feel more confident and help you keep up with initial meetings and conversations.
Note: Research is great — but it shouldn’t take the place of asking questions. If you’re unsure about something, ask about it. Even if you think you know, check for understanding. The adage “there are no stupid questions” absolutely applies to a new job!
2. Get to know the right people.
Meeting the people you’ll be working with — and scheduling dedicated time to get to know them — is critical in the first few weeks of a new role. This may seem a little overwhelming, especially if your company or organization has mandated new hire orientation, but the sooner you get to know the people you’ll be working with, the more comfortable you’ll feel in your day-to-day on the job.
To make this networking more manageable, think about it as a ripple effect. Start with the people you’ll be working with directly — your manager, the people in your department or team, and the people who’ll be reporting to you (if you’re a people leader). Then, as you continue to get to know people in the company and talk with them, ask, “Based on what I’ve told you about my role here, is there anyone else you’d suggest I get to know?” They might even be able to help with an introduction.
Note: Sometimes, your new hire orientation will have a list of people to meet and schedule introductory calls with, but if that list doesn’t exist, don’t wait for your manager or HR to set it up for you. Ask your leader who you should meet and proactively book time with them.
3. Make those intro meetings count.
When the time comes to have that first introductory meeting with a co-worker — whether it’s in-person or remote, make good use of the time by being prepared. Of course, these meetings don’t have to be all business — take a few moments to get to know who you’re talking to by asking if they have any pets, or what they like to do outside of work — but make sure you spend the majority of the time learning about them and their role.
Here are a few go-to questions I’ve asked during introductory calls:
- What are the teams or the departments you work with on a regular basis?
- What’s the biggest pain point in your role right now?
- Once I get into the swing of things, how can I be of the most help to you?
- What’s the best way to communicate with you when I do have a question?
Note: Keep in mind that in these meetings, you’re also introducing yourself to them. If you know you’re in a newly created role, give them some insight into what you’ll be doing and how you might work together.
4. Look for ongoing networking opportunities.
Being the new person at a company can be tough at first, especially if you’re getting used to a new role and a new place. One way to feel more comfortable is to attend in-person or virtual social events that your team or company may schedule on a regular basis.
Dedicated monthly lunches, virtual Happy Hours, even hanging out in the break room for a few minutes in the mornings while you’re getting a cup of coffee — these impromptu events can help to build camaraderie, introduce you to others in your company who may not be part of your team or immediate work circle, and give you a chance to connect by sharing a bit of your life outside of work.
Note: Networking doesn’t have to be a large group event. Small “coffee buddy” or “lunch buddy” meetings — or chats through a virtual communications platform like Microsoft Teams or Slack — can help you get to know more people in a more targeted way.
5. Have a plan for your first 90 days.
Here’s the truth: as you’d probably like to, you simply can’t change or tackle everything at the same time. Having a plan like this in place will help to narrow your focus by coming up with a few things you can accomplish successfully in this time frame. If you have a manager, share it with them and see if you’re focusing on the right things. If you have a team you’re managing, keep them in the loop about your immediate priorities. The proactiveness — and transparency — will be appreciated.
A 90-day plan is exactly what it sounds like — a documented list of priorities and intentions for the first three months of a job. The goal is to hit the ground running — and make sure you’re running in the same direction as your leader and your team.
Note: During those 90 days, be sure to keep the lines of communications open, asking questions and reporting on progress. And, after those three months are up, schedule a time with your manager to talk through what you’ve learned — and the actions you’ll stop, start, and continue doing as a result.
6. Be a culture enabler.
Company culture refers to the attitudes and behaviors of a company and its employees. It’s about the way people build relationships, communicate, make decisions and encourage change. In addition to learning the specifics of your job, you’re also learning about your new company’s culture.
Do your part to enable that culture by learning how the company works. How do people communicate? Is it spontaneous or more formal? If you work for a global company or one that operates across several time zones, is there a specific protocol? How does information tend to be presented? How do leaders prefer to receive insights that help them make decisions?
Note: In my next column, I’ll outline the most important aspects of a company’s culture to pay attention to — learning these will give you additional tools in your new job toolbox.
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