Starting a new job can bring back memories of starting at a new school. Whether it’s your first job, or your fifth, the first few weeks can be just as intimidating as they are exciting – however grown up and confident you are.
As recruitment consultants we’re not just here to help people find a job. We also offer advice to help people settle in and make a good impression. Here are some of the tips we provide to those starting out in a new role.
1) Build respect
There’s no better time to channel your inner extrovert, and to make use of your networking skills, than your first few weeks at work. Take every appropriate opportunity to introduce yourself and to ask people about their role. Don’t rely on others to make the introductions for you.
You’ll probably find your new team welcoming and supportive. But if you are replacing someone they particularly liked, or your role is completely new, they may be initially suspicious and unforthcoming. Stay positive, remain professional and pay attention to the dynamics between people and teams.
Build respect and trust by looking for ways to help out and by taking an interest in what other people are doing. Try to pick up on your new colleague’s working styles and adapt your approach to meet their needs. If you are a manager, take time to get to know your team as well as other senior colleagues. Building relationships will enable you to nurture a strong team spirit and establish yourself as a supportive leader from day one.
2) Understand the new culture
Getting to know your new company’s culture will help you to adapt to your new working environment. Use your first few weeks to absorb what goes on around you in order to understand the organisation’s values and how it engages with its customers, employees and the local community.
In many instances the culture will stem from an organisation’s origins. Read up on its history as well as any current mission statements, business plans and company handbooks. Also, look at how new ideas are developed and implemented, and understand who the key decision makers are.
As someone with a fresh perspective you may also develop your own ideas on how to improve the company’s established culture and processes. But make sure you’ve taken the time to fully absorb everything about the working environment before you put forward any recommendations.
3) Get to grips with your job description
A written job description is only one element of fully mastering a new role and understanding your responsibilities. It’s also important to establish people’s expectations, to fully understand the structure and skills within your team, and to identify who you need to establish relationships with, both internally and externally, in order to succeed.
Although you will be expected to deliver results eventually, be patient and don’t rush with ambitious goals. Spend time developing your knowledge of the organisation’s industry, its customers, competitors, products, services and people. However much research you did for your interview, you still can’t know everything from the start. When you have absorbed the necessary information, you will be in a stronger position to really start performing at your best.
4) Build a rapport with the boss
Request meetings with your boss on a consistent basis to review your performance, and also to establish a rapport.
If they haven’t provided you with a list of expectations for your probationary period, take proactive action. Either ask your manager to write some goals and objectives for you, or write them yourself and ask for them to be approved. Make sure you schedule in an informal review of your performance halfway through the probationary period, so you can put yourself back on course if things are going wrong.
Remember your boss is not a mind reader. Keep them informed of how you are feeling and any questions or support you need. Ask them for feedback and establish if there are any additional tasks or areas they expect you to be working on. But don’t take every little problem to the boss, for minor issues or questions, ask for help from co-workers.
5) Find a mentor
As you get introduced to senior staff, start to look for those who could act as a mentor for you. Look for the stars of the organisation and those who convey reliability, confidence and initiative.
It never hurts to have an experienced, knowledgeable, successful professional to bounce ideas off. Mentoring has numerous benefits, from a simple sounding board to someone who helps direct and advance your career within the organisation.
People who have also recently started with the organisation may also be able to provide you with useful insights, especially in the first few weeks.