It’s probably been a while since your last “First day on the job” or maybe you don’t have fond memories of your first months in earlier jobs. The first 30, 60, and 90 days are key to establish a positive perception, to build trusting relationships, and to learn the maximum amount. Since I have started many new roles in my 30 years AND helped onboard my new employees when I was a manager, here are my recommendations:
Partner with your manager.
- Be sure you meet with your hiring manager right away and ask them to answer any questions you have so you can outline your first week on the job with great clarity.
- Let them know you would like to engage in a great on-board program so you need to know the following: key people you need to meet to learn what they do, meetings you can attend as an observer, and the names of people you should be going to lunch with to begin internal networking.
- If you are shadowing, bring a pen and paper (so you can keep eye contact rather than typing on a tablet or laptop), listen attentively, take notes and write down questions you can ask later when it may be more convenient. YOU schedule the follow up with the person you shadowed.
- If you are in training, take notes and write a brief summary to take back to your hiring manager.
Although it’s really your manager’s responsibility to provide new hires with a strong on-board program, it is seldom done. So, drive your own on-board process and draw out the elements from your manager.
Exhibit excellent communication and work ethic skills immediately.
- Be on time or early. As a hiring manager, it was frustrating to have my new hire late “due to traffic” during the first week.
- Dress more formally and let people say, “You can dress more casually.” Then smile.
- Be prepared… always have pad and pen in hand, take notes, and keep the notes organized so you can refer to them later.
- Be proactive in your communications. You can do short bullet-point e-mails to your manager, sharing what your day looked like and what you learned.
- Send e-mail thank you notes to every person you meet with and close by asking them if you can set up another meeting when you learn more.
Maintain flexibility and adaptability.
A brand new boss, brand new tasks, and a brand new workplace call for some adjusting. What can you do to make sure you transition smoothly and show that you’re flexible enough to succeed in this new environment?
- Get your technology working early. Some new hires fumble around getting up to speed on the e-mails they should be seeing and meeting invites they should be getting. Ask for help.
- Keep a list of all of requests you get – big or small – and don’t let anything drop.
- Offer to help a co-worker, your boss, or a virtual team member.
Interacting with your new coworkers.
How do you join the new social structure? Is it best to hang back and observe office relationships or jump in on the first day? Should you wait to be approached or do the approaching? How do you handle your new job on social media?
- Structure your own “Listening Tour” and call it that when you ask for meetings.
- In the meeting invitations you send say something like, “Joe, I’m new to the team and am conducting a ‘listening tour’ to learn in a quick and efficient way. I am eager to learn about your background, your role here, and how we can work together.”
- Prepare questions in advance; ask for an hour but if all they can give you is 30 minutes, adjust your questions and expectations.
- Bring a pen and paper (computers prevent human interaction) and take lots of notes. LISTEN only. It’s not your time to debate something or share your knowledge on any topic.
- Ask what materials you should be reading or websites you should visit.
- Send a thank you note, summarizing what you learned from your meeting.
- Summarize all of your notes and send a report to your boss, inviting him/her to share it, as appropriate.
- DO smile when you walk down the halls.
- DO stop people, introduce yourself, and ask them what they do. Write it down… trust me, you won’t remember! Whether they are a vice president or an administrative assistant, they are of equal importance to your success.
What not to do during your first day, week, month.
At your old job, you may have been allowed to make personal phone calls, listen to music through your headphones, and relax on punctuality. That was then, this is now…
- Don’t be late.
- Don’t use your computer for personal business.
- Don’t wear a headset – unless you have a job as a telephone representative! It sends the message you don’t want to engage with people.
- Don’t close your door if you have one, unless you are in a meeting.
- Try not to be the first to leave or make a big deal about having to leave early to pick up a child at day care, for example.
- Don’t eat lunch alone; invite people to lunch to get to know them.
- Don’t do too many “drive-bys” of people’s offices to ask them questions. They are busy too!
You all know the phrase “perceptions are reality” and a great manager of mine taught me that a negative perception has a long “tail.” In other words, it takes longer to unwind a negative perception than it does to build a positive one. So start off your new job with your best foot forward.
And celebrate your new job, too! Congratulations!