Finding the right career and starting a new job can be really overwhelming. Your new workplace has different procedures and expectations. You meet lots of people and have a lot of names to remember. Plus, you’re worried about doing well and fitting into the culture.
Typically, the first three months are considered a trial period as you transition into the role. But there’s plenty you can do during this time to make a good impression and learn the ropes.
6 tips for starting a new job
Here are the best steps you can take during the first 90 days of a new job to set yourself up for success in your career.
1. Find out everyone’s preferred method of communication
Every company is different when it comes to communication patterns. Some managers have an open door policy, while others prefer email or chat. And some teams talk on various Slack channels throughout the day.
Don’t be afraid to ask people directly how they prefer to get requests. That way, you can make sure you don’t ruffle any feathers by choosing one method over another.
2. Invite feedback from your managers
Getting evaluated is always hard, but it’s also an opportunity to grow. To show you’re open to feedback, ask your managers for their opinions.
Find out their expectations and how you can meet them. Show that you’re proactive about learning and improving.
And if you have people reporting to you, invite their comments and ideas, as well. Taking an aggressive, top-down stance right off the bat isn’t likely to inspire loyalty from your team.
3. Set S.M.A.R.T. monthly goals
Apart from adjusting to your new workplace culture, you also want to start contributing value. To hit the ground running, try using the S.M.A.R.T. framework to set goals.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented, and time-based. Each of your goals should meet all five of these criteria.
That way, you’ll have tangible goals to work toward, as well as metrics for measuring whether or not you accomplished them.
You don’t have to set these goals in a vacuum. Ask your teammates about their expectations around productivity and output in the first few months.
4. Strive for an early win
One of the best ways to make a good impression is to make an “early win.” Michael Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter,” wrote that an early accomplishment can build credibility in the eyes of your new team.
It shows that you’re already connecting with the organization and giving your all to the new role. Just be sure you don’t take on more than you can handle.
You have to find the balance between being proactive and allowing yourself time to adapt. “As part of your broader campaign to secure early wins … keep in mind that it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver,” Watkins said.
5. Prioritize listening and learning
When you’re eager to prove yourself, it’s easy to hop in with lots of ideas and suggestions. But don’t forget to listen and learn about your new workplace.
You could rub people the wrong way if you’re always referring to how you did things in your old job. Take time to listen to others and get a lay of the land.
While you may have great ideas, don’t make assumptions without having all the facts. By making listening a priority, you’ll show that you’re flexible and open to learning new methods.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Another common pitfall of new employees is being afraid to ask questions. You just put your best foot forward during the interview process — you don’t want to come off as incompetent on day one.
But if you’re going to grow with the company for the next few years, you need to get your questions answered. In most cases, asking questions shows engagement, not a lack of ability.
Often, companies will match up experienced employees with new hires to support them through the onboarding process. If your company doesn’t have this policy, perhaps you can find a co-worker to be your point person through the process.
And if someone in a senior position is open to it, you could establish a mentoring relationship. Mentorship is a great way to gain support and grow in your career.
Making the most of the first 90 days
The first few months in a new role come with all sorts of challenges. You have to learn new ways of doing things and adjust to a different culture.
“Joining a new company is akin to an organ transplant — and you’re the organ,” wrote Watkins. You must be mindful about how you adapt to your role within the larger system.
At the same time, remember to go easy on yourself. You’re not expected to know everything immediately, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out exactly what you can do to succeed.
Although you may feel vulnerable at first, eventually you’ll make a successful transition into your new role. And maybe in a few months, you’ll be helping the next new employee through their onboarding experience.
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