Starting a new job is an exciting experience. Whatever the reason for leaving your old role, you’re joining a new company with new challenges.
It’s also an opportunity to build fresh relationships and advance your career in a way that may not have been possible where you were.
Starting a new job is a bounty of opportunities that comes with a splendid new desk and shiny new business cards.
On the other hand, a new job is a steep learning curve of process, pecking orders and office politics.
Making headway early on is important. As is building relationships and integrating yourself into the team.
The quicker everyone feels like you are part of the furniture the better. Even if you’ve only been there 5 minutes.
Here’s our best advice for starting (and surviving) a new job.
Get to know your team
All the evidence suggests that disruptions to a team dramatically impact performance, morale and increases turnover.
Which, if you’re the new person, can be quite unsettling. Especially if you’ve only just remembered everyone’s names.
Carefully observe the team dynamics. What roles do people assume and how do they conduct themselves? This will help you identify any potential flashpoints or issues that need addressing.
Take as many opportunities as you can to learn about your team over your first couple of weeks – without being disruptive. Equally share anecdotes and insights into your life to establish that all important common ground or shared interests.
This will help to build trust and make it easier for you to understand the role that everyone plays in the team. Both practically and socially.
A tried and tested technique is the post work drink on your first day.
This may not always be possible but either suggest it in advance to your hiring manager or as soon as you can on your first day. This gives those with childcare commitments or other arrangements time to move things around.
However unlikely it may seem that your new colleagues would drop everything to go for a drink with you after work – remember this: they want to get to know you just as much as you want to get to know them.
Finding a Sounding Board
A new company usually means a deluge of new policies, procedures, processes and tasks.
Plus, a new office, full of new faces and an uncertainty of where the closest photocopier (and toilet) is to your desk.
Finding someone that you can bombard with questions is a useful stress reliever. It can feel intimidating – when you’re the new person – to ask questions. Especially ones that you feel may be a little silly.
Truth be told – there’s no such thing as silly questions because (a) something is only obvious once you’ve been shown and (b) everyone was new once.
So, find someone who you think will be supportive and understanding – like your line manager – and just unload.
They would much rather you ask all the ‘silly questions’ now rather than find out you’ve been doing things wrong for 6 months.
We do stress the importance of choosing the right person to ask for help. Avoid the person in the office who seems to delight in other people’s misfortune for a start.
Depending on the level you’re going in at you may be asked to put together a strategy – or at the very least a plan – for your first 100 days.
That’s fine and to be expected. However, a coherent strategy takes time and implementing it doesn’t necessarily give you much of a steer on your job performance.
Arrange with your line manager some achievable performance goals and training targets. Then hold regular (weekly at first) meetings to discuss how you’re doing.
It will help you feel supported but it will also demonstrate the progress you’re making. If you’re drifting away from a specific target or you’re combing up against obstacles, then those regular keep in touch meetings will help you get back on track. Or allow your line manager to intervene on your behalf if someone or something in the organisation is being obstructive.
Remember to include training goals as well as performance objectives. Your organisation should be supporting your development. For no other reason than it’ll help you do a better job in the long run.
You never want to find yourself in a position where you can’t do the role because you haven’t had the training.
Spot the marks on the carpet
When anyone joins a business, they see the place with fresh eyes. They spot every mark on the carpet, every coffee ring on the desks and gaps in processes.
Assuming you’re going into a safe and supportive environment, use your first few weeks to constructively identify where improvements in products, processes or services can be made.
Timing is important, of course, as is how you deliver the feedback. Laying into the company’s product offering on your first day isn’t the best way to make friends…or keep your job.
However, making observations that is backed up with evidence and possible solutions demonstrates that you care about the business and want to add to it. Rather than tear it down.
It’s also important that you choose whom you share these insights with carefully. Again, favour a line manager or team member you can trust or the person in the team who responds negatively to new ideas.
During this time you should be also looking to make your mark on any assignments or projects you have been assigned to.
Now is the time to demonstrate your work ethic, knowledge, skills and enthusiasm. Basically, all the stuff the hiring manager saw in you during the interview process.
Again, this is not about making waves but adding value and demonstrating that next level commitment that the higher ups love to see.
Starting a new role – regardless of position, hierarchy, salary and everything else – is an anxious time. The overwhelming newness of everything can be quite draining.
Especially as you’re likely working twice as hard in order to make a good impression.
We highly recommend building some self-care into your first couple of weeks. Early nights, healthy dinners and balanced breakfasts.
Avoid alcohol (apart from the first day drinks) as it’ll affect your work performance and you don’t want to be the person in the office who smells like stale booze.
Also give yourself a little time to reflect after each day. What went well, what didn’t? Who in the office knows their stuff and who might need some training up?
Giving yourself the head space to unravel your day helps prepare you for tomorrow and gives you vital perspective on the challenges you faced.
It also helps you formulate plans and even the beginnings of that strategy you need to work on.
KDC are expert recruiters finding top technical and engineering talent to the aerospace, defence, emerging & disruptive technology, space and cyber security sectors.