I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion on the ways to ensure success in the first weeks of a new job. The panelists were members of F&M’s Leadership Council who provided a wealth of insightful advice and wisdom for graduates (and others) who may be in the midst of transitioning to a new professional role. Inspired by that conversation, and with graduation right around the corner, I compiled some of the advice shared that day, along with tips of my own… to help you make the most of your first 90 days at a new job.
· Learn the culture. The culture of a place is unique. Understanding how the culture of this place is different from that of your last employer or, for recent graduates, from life at college, is vital for success. The best way to do this in a new environment is through observation and dialogue. As you go through your days pay attention to how people interact with one another and with whom they interact? What social mores are people observing? What kinds of things get talked about, rewarded, called out… and what kinds of things don’t? Invite colleagues from your own and other departments out to coffee or lunch and let them know you want to get to know them, their role, and to learn more about the organization.
· Have confidence in your contribution while recognizing your limitations. You were brought into the team because of the value you contribute; have confidence in that truth and be willing to step up and take risks in support of the organizational goals, in the areas where you provide value. Simultaneously, have a good understanding of the learning curve of moving into a new organization and be willing to acknowledge the areas in which you need to develop skills and knowledge. Knowing yourself in this way will help ensure you see and take opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and skill, while identifying (and acting on) opportunities for growth and development.
· Have the courage to make difficult decisions. When new to a role, it is tempting to pass difficult decisions on to someone else. Remember that in part, you were hired for your judgment. Ask for advice, do your homework, explore the possible outcomes related to each choice, and ultimately… make your decision and stand by it.
· Monitor your work in an ongoing way. As you make choices throughout each day and each week, monitor what is working and what isn’t. By keeping a close eye on the direction of your work decisions as you go along, you will be able to spot potential challenges early and redirect quickly. Failure to monitor consistently may result in not seeing problems until it is too late to easily correct them.
· Recognize the workplace as a vehicle for discovery. For most of us, our jobs provide an opportunity for us to contribute, but also for us to learn and grow as individuals, team members, leaders, and professionals. Be open as those opportunities present themselves in your workplace, and take initiative to talk about areas of possible growth. Taking initiative in your own professional development maintains the spirit of the workplace as a vehicle for discovery while also demonstrating your commitment to bettering yourself and increasing your contribution to the organization.
· Don’t forget the social transition of beginning a new job. Get to know your co-workers and find out about the social aspects of the organization. Where do people eat lunch? Who works out together? Are there after work gatherings? Are birthdays celebrated? A large portion of your “awake time” is spent fulfilling work responsibilities and so building in and seeking out opportunities for fun and rejuvenation with others in the organization can be an important part of a successful transition.