Early days in a new organisation can be ‘interesting’. Most of us have landed in a new job and felt, to some extent, overwhelmed by the amount of information we’ve needed to digest. Even in organisations with well-structured induction plans there is still a sense of being too reliant on others to find your feet.
What can and should you do? The following 10 steps will give you a platform for success:
Get out and about to introduce yourself
Don’t wait for people to come to you or rely only on meeting people arranged by your manager. Be visible, don’t become locked in the one space. Get out and about, say hello and shake hands (or bump elbows) wherever you go. Look for any and every opportunity to introduce yourself, whether in the kitchen, elevator or a staff kiosk/canteen.
When you get some privacy, make a note of the names of people in your smartphone for later access.
If you devise some semblance of a plan, you’d obviously start with people you work most closely with; then move progressively to wider groups.
Start to build relationships
What do the experts say: the three keys to success are relationships, relationships, relationships. Build on your visibility and having introduced yourself to others by asking different people for coffee or to lunch. Once again, start with those you work most closely with but then expand your horizons.
Find a veteran
Every organisation has people who have been there for years and know all the ropes. They carry so much of the organisational history in their head. They can provide you with invaluable insight.
Make it a point to locate such a person and try to build a relationship. The only proviso is that you don’t align yourself with a Negative Ned – we all know the type: “that won’t work here, we tried that back in 2002….”
Vision, Mission and Strategic Priorities
It is absolutely critical to your success that you start immersing yourself, as soon as possible, in the vison/mission; and how this impacts upon the organisation’s strategic priorities. If there’s a strategic and/or an operational plan, get a copy as soon as you can. This information will inform many of the questions you’ll ask.
Listen, learn and ask questions
No matter what brief you are given on arrival, you’ll encounter issues if you do not ‘honour the past’. Start with the assumption that every system and practice currently in place was introduced by a reasonable person for a legitimate reason.
Never, ever make comments such as ‘At [your prior organisation] we did it this way’.
When someone offers help, listen and acknowledge their advice, even if you don’t agree or you believe you know better.
Ask questions, listen and learn the ‘how’ and the ‘why’. Take notes of any change you identify as potentially worthwhile – but refrain from acting too early.
Agree on priorities and expectations
There are two crucial aspects in establishing your working relationship with your manager:
- Start to tease out the expectations s/he has of your role. This includes identifying what s/he sees as your immediate and medium-term priorities; and how these align with the strategic plan.
- Agree on a communication process. This could involve a regular time set in both diaries with the purpose being to:
- Update her/him on progress and to ensure s/he is not blind-sided by events happening in the organisation; and
- Provide you with an agreed time to check on priorities and ask your questions, as you navigate your early days. This is much better that just regularly appearing at her/his office door.
Focus on your own team
If you manage a team, then it is ditto the above. You need to start agreeing on the expectations and priorities of your team members.
Speak to your new manager to find out if any of your team had applied for the role you’ve been appointed to. There is a good case for you to be given this information as it will assist you in establishing a working relationship with that person(s).
If you’ve made mistakes with social media (as many do) by mixing business and personal, now is the time to get this fixed. Keep them separate.
When you have commenced in the new role, update your profile on business social media platforms; and link to any of your new organisation’s accounts and colleagues.
Prior colleagues and referees
Soon after starting in the new role is also the ideal time to make sure you’re connected to prior colleagues. It is so easy to lose touch if you don’t do this in these early days.
If you use LinkedIn, as an example, this should include asking some prior colleagues to post a recommendation on your page.
Referees still have such a vital role in a recruitment process. Within the first few weeks of starting it is advisable to give them a call. Any referee will tell you how much a call to provide an update and say ‘thank you’ is appreciated.
The nitty gritty
Everyone knows the angst that occurs when people upset the rules of the kitchen, coffee machine, refrigerator, dishwasher, copier machines etc. Ask early what is expected and avoid being the person others are whispering and complaining about.
I’ve a friend who arrived for his first day to find he had not been expected. He was asked to go back home and bring in his letter of offer!! TRUE. There had been a major restructuring which meant his manager and that person’s manager had departed. No matter what you do, you’ll be in a better than he was!
By using the above 10 steps as a guide you’ll take more control of your own success.
Hopefully it will be quite a while before you need to read this article titled How to resign and preserve the relationship.