So you got the job offer, negotiated your salary and benefits, passed your background check, and now you’re ready to start your new job! Most employers have a new employee orientation program to welcome you and introduce you to the organization as a whole. But in order to start being productive right away and deliver your best performance in the first 90 days , what you’ll really need is a tangible roadmap for where you’re supposed to be heading. (We recommend that you read Michael Watkins’ book The First 90 Days which helped us develop our ideas on this subject.) Some employers wisely use a new employee engagement tool like our Great Start Tool to boost productivity and enhance performance. But if yours doesn’t, here are some questions you’ll want to ask your boss to start your job off right:
1. What is the mission of my position? Ask your boss to define the central task or outcome you will be dedicated to accomplishing. This will be the framework within which you’ll operate day-to-day.
2. What are my key responsibilities? Ask for the details of how you’re expected to accomplish your position’s mission. This will enable you to focus on the tasks that are most important.
3. What SMART goals do you have for me? SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Your supervisor has probably already thought these through before hiring you, but if not, now is the time to pinpoint these. After all, if your employer has trouble defining the mile-markers to success, imagine how hard it will be for you to reach them!
4. What behaviors will help me be a good fit? Learning the company motto is great, but you’ll need more information about the company’s culture and lived-out norms for employee behavior. Ask your boss to spell out expectations for your work hours, work intensity or pace, break times, and teamwork so you have a heads-up on how to fit in well and put your best foot forward.
5. What are my priority focuses and current projects? Your boss can ease your stress by clarifying your most important action items and prioritizing projects in which you’ll be involved.
6. Who will be mentoring me? Hopefully, your boss has already assigned someone to you who knows the ropes, understands how the whole company works, and can help you maneuver along this new learning curve.
7. How will you be training and developing me? In your interviews, it’s likely that both you and your manager identified areas of weakness where your skills could be strengthened through training and employee development. If you’re excited about enhancing your career path by growing and improving your skills, now’s the time to find out how your organization will be growing you!
8. What services and products does our organization offer? Getting this information from your boss will equip you to operate at your fullest potential.
9. Who are the key people with whom I’ll be interacting? Since you want to interact knowledgeably and confidently, ask your supervisor for the name and title of each key person, plus their role and how they fit into the organization. Also find out if there are any people who need special attention so you can be prepared to communicate appropriately with them.
10. What’s the typical weekly or monthly schedule? Many organizations hold a weekly project meeting, regular employee development sessions, or a monthly potluck to celebrate birthdays. Knowing what to expect will alleviate anxiety and allow you to fully participate in company activities.
11. Can you clarify how in-house communications are handled? Perhaps your boss doesn’t like drop-ins, or Sue in HR never listens to her voice messages, or Lance in sales doesn’t answer his emails. To start your job off right, get your boss to give you the heads up so you can use the most successful ways to communicate with key people to get the answers you need.
12. Who are our key clients? If you’re going to properly take care of key clients, you’d better know who they are! To avoid embarrassing first interactions and make a good first impression, it’s helpful to learn whether any clients require special treatment so you can provide them with the great service your company expects.
13. How can I secure an early win? Is there a nagging problem you can solve or a flaw you can improve in your early days to create value and bring momentum to your team? Look for opportunities where you can contribute your expertise to quickly build credibility and be seen as someone who immediately makes a positive difference.
These questions may take some time to review with your boss, but establishing a detailed roadmap will help you start your job off right. Most likely, your employer will be glad to spend the time, since an engaged, high-performing employee contributes to the company’s bottom line. Once you’ve designed the roadmap together, your boss can use it to communicate clearly and regularly with you, giving you praise for things you’re doing well and redirection in areas where you’ve gotten off track. And you can use it to help you become a confident, high-performing employee who knows exactly where you’re headed.