How to Start Off Well in Your New Job

In the span of your career, you’ll likely make a dozen or more job changes. Some of those will be within the organization you belong to at the time of the change, and others will be with entirely new organizations. When starting in a new position, nothing is more important than establishing your credibility early on and with the right people.

Think about it. If you’re like most who have moved along in their career path, you’ve been progressing over time. You didn’t just arrive at this place overnight. It’s taken time. You’ve had to invest yourself in your work and demonstrate your ability to make the right kind of contribution to the group or organization to which you belong.

It would be easy to assume that everyone around you believes in your skills, abilities, and commitment to the mission of the team. Unless you have well-established relationships within this new work group, however, it would be a mistake to make this assumption. In most cases, whether at your current company or at a different organization, you are an unknown at your new work assignment. It’s true that you’ve been thoroughly interviewed, poked, prodded, assessed, and well vetted. However, even if the hiring manager was part of that process, he or she is still unsure if they’ve made the right decision. They hope and believe they have, but honestly, only time will tell.

For you as an employee starting in a new position, that time is now. It’s up to you to deliver on the hope that you are a great hire! But how do you go about establishing yourself on the team, earning trust and building credibility?  Where do you begin? Here are four tips for how to start off well:

Learn who is keeping  score in your new job.

Of course, every position has a boss. However, beyond your immediate boss are others who are paying attention to you. Think about it–wouldn’t you be watching if a new person joined your team? You’ll need to find out who the influential people are in your new world. This isn’t politics, this is practical common sense. In most cases, if you demonstrate that you have the requisite skill and commitment, these key relationships with the most influential people in your new world will become helpful guides.  Pay attention and find out who the key relationships are for you in your new position.

Learn how the game is played.

It goes without saying that you know how to do what you do. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how your new teammates do it. As Guy Kawasaki says, “Arrogant people believe that they know what to do, how the company should operate, and what’s wrong with management. These kinds of people are called ’90-day wonders’ because they think they know everything after 90 days.” In reality, every environment is different, with its own peculiarities and idiosyncrasies.It would be a big error in judgment to assume that your way is the right way and disregard the tribal knowledge or cultural norms of your new workplace. My advice? Don’t assume anything. Go in with your eyes wide open, ask plenty of questions, and learn as much as possible…before telling everyone how smart you are. 

Learn how the score is kept.

It’s always interesting to learn what different companies in the same industry pay attention to. Sometimes, companies in the same industry watch the same metrics–and sometimes they watch entirely different metrics. Some companies pay close attention to overtime, while others watch billable hours or On-Time Deliveries. Even if you’ve made a job change in the same industry, don’t count on the new method for scorekeeping being the same as the one you previously knew. Otherwise, you could find yourself paying attention to metrics that aren’t being watched and not watching metrics that are! You may be surprised at your first review to discover that you’ve been measured against a standard you weren’t expecting.

Ask your new boss three key questions.

The problem is that, too often, when you start a new position, you’re expected to know how to get an A in the class because you were the one hired for the job. Yet usually, you aren’t given a game plan with all the relevant information on it! That’s unfortunate. The good news is that you can do something about this. Ask your new boss these three questions:

1.) Who are the 3-5 key relationships I must have in order to succeed in my new position?

2.) What are the specific outcomes and/or results that you would be thrilled to see me produce at the end of 30, 60, and 90 days?

3.) What else should I know about how you keep score here?

For an even more detailed game plan for how to start off well in your new job, click here. Finding out up front who is keeping score, how the game is played, and how the score is kept in your new job will help set you up to succeed and be valued for your contribution.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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