Starting a new job is a very exciting time. You want to impress your new boss and show them they made the right decision in hiring you. The company wants the same thing. They hired you for a reason and have a personal stake in your success. But moving too fast or heading off in the wrong direction can torpedo your efforts.
Sometimes being too eager and moving ahead too quickly can negatively impact your effectiveness.
According to Marcia Leander, associate vice president of talent management at Colonial Life, miscommunication or misalignment with your boss and peers/team on expectations can create a poor first impression.
“New hires don’t know the company’s rules, both the written and unwritten ones,” she said. “They also haven’t built an internal network of people who can support your actions and ideas.”
5 things to consider
Leander recommends that the first thing new hires should do is focus on performance.
“New employees should make their highest priority learning the job. The employee’s boss and co-workers will appreciate a performing team member the most. After the new hire develops competence and mastery of the key accountabilities—and performs them consistently, he/she can volunteer to help out other team members or take on additional accountabilities.”
Previous articles on changing jobs/ careers:
So, after new hire training, how do you learn the job? Here are five things to consider:
1. Pay attention during orientation/onboarding. Leander suggests taking notes the first few weeks on the job either electronically or with a good old-fashioned notebook. Two specific items to focus on:
- Who is conducting the program? There’s an opportunity to build valuable organizational relationships. As a new hire, you want to build a network of people who will help you maneuver the organization. Even the best companies have plenty of unwritten rules and often, we don’t want to ask human resources or our boss about them.
- What are they saying? Their responses are a clear indicator of what the organization feels is important. Listen for how people explain what the business does and what customers value about the company. Is it the quality and safety of the product? Or the exceptional customer service? Maybe it’s their commitment to the community. These things offer new employees some perspective.
2. Get to know your boss. This person hired you and they want you to be successful. As a new employee, you want to know these three things: A) The activities you can do and never tell your boss, B) The actions you can take and tell your boss later, and B) The situations where you need to immediately march into your boss’ office and tell them.
3. Learn the rules. Very few people are “disruptors”. Most of us create change by operating within the structure of the organization. So, know the system. Ask questions and learn how things work. Even if you’ve been hired to revamp an outdated process, don’t pass judgement on the company’s systems until you understand them and who created them.
4. Get to know your peers. The majority of what you do will be accomplished with them. Your co-workers have their own unique personalities and working styles. Understand how you fit into the team. And remember, they are going to want to know about you and your working style as well. If you haven’t given it any thought, spend some time thinking about how you would answer the question.
5. Understand how meetings work. Speaking of colleagues, meetings are where stuff gets done. Analyze how the organization makes decisions and communicates change. That includes who is involved. It helps to understand how things get done before recommending changes to existing policies or processes. You’ll know who needs to buy-into your ideas.
This might seem like a long list, but the bottom-line is new hires need to become aware of their new surroundings and leverage their knowledge. That’s how you learn the job and become a key member of the team.
Focus on current performance first
New hires need to take the time to understand the organization before trying to change it. Even when you were hired to create change, it makes sense to fully understand the players and processes first. It is perceived as being respectful of the traditions that have been created.
It also allows a new hire to build a network of people at the company who can support you. They can provide history and education about the company. You can ask them to buy-into your ideas. New hires are successful when they have the respect of the people they work with. That takes time and a knowledge of the organization.