Whether you are a recent graduate or just landed a great promotion, starting in a new job has a number of challenges. Learning new skills or techniques and understanding the product or methods of the new company are certainly a challenge but most people are selected because they have the education, skill and knowledge to master this. The larger challenges that we are generally not trained for in a formal way, are around the actual work.
Building a new network, understanding new informal code, finding your way through the maze of social relations and hierarchies are all challenging tasks that won’t be done in a week.
Here are some pointers to help you along:
Before you get to the new job, you should prepare yourself with all the resources within your reach. Make sure you read the latest official postings to the government and the investors, re-read all about their products and methods, ensure you have gone through the last year of news releases, check background of the leadership, browse linkedin for co-workers and other company related people in your direct or extended network, make sure you know the dress code and have things that will match and check your logistics from time to work through parking to knowing some of the restaurants and shops in the area.
Listening is a powerful way to learn. Larry King said: “Nothing I’m going to say this day will teach me anything, so if I want to learn I will have to do it by listening”. With listening we mean truly listening and not just being silently waiting for your turn to talk. People love to share their views with the new person, so encourage that and learn. Don’t immediately engage and take sides on every issue presented but rather find more information by making short inviting comments like: ” how so?”, “can you explain that”, “what did you think about that”, “why do you think ….” etc.
Listening alone is not enough, you need to write down what you have heard. Not yet your conclusions out of what they said, rather try to document verbatim what has been shared with you. You may have a great memory but the problem is that the new information can be overwhelming. An additional problem is that much will be said, but not everything will prove to be important later. As you don’t know yet what will and what will not be important, it is difficult to ensure you remember the most important points, so writing down all your impressions should be a great resource later.
Take the time to actually go through your notes. Read them and re-read them and try to start making sense of all the stories. Focus on information about what made people successful in your new company and what do they define as success in the company. What are the goals (remember goal clarity!) for the department, the company and you? Did you notice any unwritten rules, do’s and don’t’s and the local lingo. Arriving at a new job is a bit like arriving at a new destination for a vacation. You need to ensure you speak the language and get to know the local customs, to avoid being seen as rude or inappropriate and to ensure you are well placed to become successful there.
Although you are in listening, note-taking and reflection mode, make sure you hit the ground running. Remember why they needed you? Well act upon it and show that you are capable, willing to work and learn and an active participant of the team. Don’t start changing until you know the history of the situation. Don’t start acting upon every horror story you will hear in the first months as people have a tendency not to take no for an answer and rehash their issues with every new manager that enters the company.
These are just a few basic recommendations. The web is full of good advice and tips to survive that new job.
When you are brought into the company by a headhunter or placement firm, remember that you may have been oversold to the company while they may have oversold the company to you. Show good faith, be action oriented and approachable and it will work itself out.
Continue to Listen, Write, Reflect and Act upon it the full first six months and you will be surprised how much benefit you will find in it.