Starting Your Role
So you’ve just accepted a job offer from a company — congrats! It’s very exciting knowing you’re joining a team where you are aligned on values and the culture seems to be everything you are looking for.
However, starting any new role can be quite a nerve-racking experience as you try to make a great impression from the start. In this blog I will highlight some key areas to focus on when navigating through the first six months of your new role.
Making a Good First Impression
You’re the new worker in the office and you feel as if all eyes are on you. You’re starting from scratch and you feel like everybody else has a head start on you. You want to fit in well and for your co-workers to like you, naturally, but the best thing you can do is to be your authentic self from the start.
Usually, your new manager will be the first to welcome you and begin to show you around your new office. You may feel like a rabbit caught in headlights as soon as you walk through the door but this is a perfect opportunity for you to make a great first impression.
Introduce yourself to new colleagues, shake their hand (or opt for the Covid-born elbow bump if that seems to be the better option) and make sure to show a genuine interest in getting to know them.
Depending on your company's onboarding process, which typically varies depending on the size of the business, you may have some calls already booked into your calendar to help you get familiarised with how the company is run over the next couple of weeks.
During these calls, you will be introduced to more colleagues around the company and it can be hard to remember everybody's names and positions, so I would recommend keeping a notebook and pen with you at all times to keep tabs.
While the onboarding process can take up quite a bit of your time and it might feel like your focus should be on the next call, I would still suggest reaching out to your colleagues and asking them if they would like to go for a walk, a coffee, or some lunch.
This gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself properly and get to know them better, rather than a brief 30 second interaction from when you first walked in. Your conversations may vary between casual and awkward depending on who you are speaking to, and that’s completely natural.
Some conversations focus more on finding out what you like to do outside of work, some will be more focused on strictly work. Have questions lined up for both scenarios to avoid too much dead air.
When it comes to settling into your role, it’s important that you take your time to learn the ropes and soak up as much information as you can. You’re not expected to know everything after your first week by any of your colleagues, so you shouldn’t expect that of yourself (especially learning internal abbreviations or jargon).
One of the first things you should do is to speak with your manager and set out a plan of what their short, medium and long term expectations are for you, so you both can begin to set out a plan to achieve them. Short term goals are great for keeping you focused on larger tasks - if you break down a task into smaller segments, the task instantly becomes less daunting.
Weekly catch-ups with your manager can help to make sure you are on track to meet each of these short term goals and gives you both an opportunity to voice any potential setbacks and difficulties you are facing.
Medium and long term goals are great for tracking your overall progress and helps both you and your manager see how well you have fit into your role. Additionally, if it’s not already in your manager's plans, ask if you could have a 90 day (3-month) and a 180 day (6-month) review to assess your progress. This will also give you the opportunity to identify both your strengths and weaknesses so that you can continue to develop in your role.
Preparation, Organisation & Execution
Making an impact relies on how well you prepare and organise your working day, followed closely by the execution of your tasks. Starting out, your workload will more than likely be minimal until you have settled in. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get yourself into a routine of some good practices that can benefit you massively when things start to get a little more busy.
1. Colour Coded Calendar
Colour coding your calendar not only helps you schedule your day better, but it also ensure you don’t overlook any important meetings or tasks that you have scheduled. I typically choose certain colours for certain tasks and try to stay consistent with using them when scheduling in my calendar.
2. Focus Time
Back-to-back calls can quickly lead to fatigue or what is also known as “zoom fatigue” which in turn can negatively affect your productivity throughout the rest of your day. For this reason, it’s important that you also allow for some focus time in your daily schedule so you can tick off some of your own to-do list and some of the more administrative work too.
3. Note Tools, Apps & Their Purpose
With any new job comes new tools and apps that play an integral part in the day-to-day functioning of your company. When you are being onboarded and your manager or colleagues are showing you the different tools and applications that the company uses, it’s good practice to write them down, along with their purpose so that you can refer back to the notes.
This is particularly useful when somebody asks you to do a task on an app or tool that you remember being shown, but can’t remember what the function actually was.
I personally like to bookmark the apps that I use most frequently on my browser so that they are just a click away at all times. This definitely helps to speed up the process of getting tasks done.
Overall, there are many good practices you can begin to do to make your working day more efficient, but what about when there are tasks you need to do that are affected by another issue?
Whether it’s bottlenecks that slow down your output or maybe a bug you have found in your product, if it’s somehow delaying you in finishing a task it’s best practice to take note of the issue and try to identify and implement any fixes that you can.
Failing that, if the issue is out of your control, it would be best practice to highlight it to your team members who may be best suited to address it.
Making Your Mark
Typically, as the months go by and you receive feedback from your manager and colleagues, you start to notice that you’re making an impact on the company as you grow and develop into a more competent worker. As well as you developing personally, bringing new ideas to the table are also a great way to contribute to the growth of your company.
Whether it is a new way to generate leads, a campaign that can help to spread brand awareness or an idea which will help your whole team work more efficiently, you should always be on the lookout for these types of opportunities which will benefit your company moving forward.
In addition to this, I am a strong believer in voicing differing opinions in the workplace. Not only does diversity amongst employees drive higher financial returns, it also increases productivity and happiness amongst team members.
Everybody likes to be right but nobody is right all of the time. It’s important that not only you, but your whole team, foster an attitude of knowing that there is always more than one way to view a situation and that a difference of opinions is not a bad thing.
The approach you take to voicing your opinion is crucial, especially if it is to challenge something that is already in place. By having an open and honest relationship with your colleagues, it will help to ensure that nobody feels that you’re undervaluing their opinions or that you don’t believe that their ideas are good.
You should always remain open minded and question everything as it’s a great way to understand how, and why things are done as they are. Express your interest in areas that interest you in any part of the company and use it as an opportunity to up-skill and begin to contribute to the team in a new way.
When starting in a new role or a new industry, it can be very common to suffer from imposter syndrome. In fact, recent research has shown that three in five people suffer from it in the workplace.
So if you do find yourself suffering from self-doubt at times or maybe feel that your colleagues are much more knowledgeable than you, it’s important to realise that a lot of this is not based on facts and is more often than not — all in your head.
It can be easy sometimes to get caught up trying to be a “perfect employee”. However, it’s worth remembering that nobody expects you to be perfect. All you can do is try your best.
As the months go by, you should find yourself becoming more comfortable and confident in your role. I typically find the three-month mark is a good indicator of when you begin to really settle into your position and surroundings.
I would recommend using your 90-day review to reflect on the progress you have made since starting your position with your manager and also highlight any areas that could be improved moving forward. Hopefully any issues you may have are easily fixed which is typically the case the earlier they are addressed.
Having performance metrics outlined early on helps you to manage your own expectations and avoid feeling overwhelmed in work. We all want, and aim to hit the ground running, but you should be cautious to not put too much pressure on yourself when starting out.
My final advice is to stay open minded and be honest, ask for continuous feedback and don’t be afraid to give feedback also. You will no doubt be successful in your role if you embody your company values and keep them at the core of your decision making, so enjoy the experience.