Starting a new job is exciting. Everything is new. A new office, a new computer, a new line manager, new colleagues, new processes.
And new challenges.
Whatever role you’re going into, you’re there to fill a requirement. Which means getting down to work as quickly as you can and impressing the right people.
Making headway early is important. You need to be able to establish yourself as both a professional and a member of the team.
If you spend too much time acclimating to the new role, you may find it harder to effect meaningful change. Especially if you’re going into a position of leadership where there previously wasn’t a manager, or they weren’t very effective.
Quickly building relationships and integrating right from the start is important to taking the team in a new direction. However, that can mean navigating the social minefield of office politics.
Bypassing these obstacles as quickly as you can is important to the long-term success of you and your team.
Here’s our best advice for starting (and surviving) a new job.
Get to know your Team
It makes little difference where you sit in the pecking order. Getting to know the people you’ll be working with is important.
Disruptions to a team – whether it’s people leaving or new people starting – can impact on performance and morale. It also increases the chances of further turnover.
There are two reasons for this. The first is the person leaving can turn otherwise content team members into malcontents. The second is they don’t like the changes new people can bring. Change can be uncomfortable, and some take to it better than others.
As the new person, witnessing such unhappiness can be disheartening. Doubly so if you’ve been brought into lead the team.
If someone has made the decision to leave, there is little you can do about it. Also recognise it isn’t personal, the chances are they were going to leave whoever got the job.
Regardless, resist the urge to make any immediate and dramatic changes to the team. Rather, take the time to observe the team and the roles they occupy both professionally and socially.
This will help you identify any potential flashpoints or issues that need addressing.
Learn as much about your team as you can over the first couple of weeks.While giving them the opportunity to know you.
Humans are tribal and naturally suspicious of new people. Sharing anecdotes and insights into your life will help establish a common ground and start to build trust between you.
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.
It may seem unlikely that your new colleagues would drop everything to go for a drink with you after work. But remember this: they want to get to know you as much as you want to get to know them.
Find Someone you can Trust
Joining any company means lots of new processes, policies, procedures, new management structures and lots of new faces.
It can be difficult to keep pace with who is who, where they sit and what they do.
This can be pretty intimidating when you’re the new person. There will naturally be a lot of gaps in your knowledge that need filling. Try to find someone – like your line manager – who you can rely on to answer all your questions.
It doesn’t matter how silly those questions may seem. If you don’t know the answer, then you need to ask the question.
Your line manager would much rather you ask all the ‘silly questions’ now. Rather than discover you’ve not done anything for 6 months.
But also consider that everyone is new to the company at some point and you’re not expected to know everything.
It’s easy to feel a little directionless when you first start a job. For the first couple of weeks you’re establishing yourself, training, getting to know the team and everything else.
So it’s easy to feel like you’re not pulling your weight or otherwise contributing. A good line manager will know this. They’ll already have an idea of how long it should take you to get your feet under you.
However, this doesn’t help you unless that information is shared. Arrange with your line manager some achievable performance goals and training targets as soon as possible.
This will help to set expectations for both parties. Also providing you with a way of getting support and feedback as you go.
Follow this up with regular progress meetings to make sure you’re on track and they are happy with your performance.
This will help you to keep on trac and identify any training issues that should be addressed. Or allow your line manager to intervene if someone 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 the role has grown beyond your abilities. Especially if it’s because you weren’t given the appropriate training.
Being the new person in the business allows you to ‘spot the marks on the carpet’. In other words, you can identify problems.
Everyone around you is so used to doing things the way they’ve always been done. Because of this, they become blind to the problems and inefficiencies they can create.
We humans naturally adapt to a problem and find a workaround. Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes to come up with a proper solution.
Assuming you’re going into a safe and supportive environment, you will be in a position to give constructive feedback. Especially where improvements in products, processes or services can be made.
However, any observations should be backed with evidence and a potential solution. It’s important that you demonstrate your willingness to solve problems, rather than a desire to criticise.
During this time you should be also looking for ways to enhance or improve any active projects. Or work assignments to help your team meet their targets. Again, this should be done constructively and from a place of seeking understanding.
Ask questions about the existing processes and if your proposed solution has ever been tried before. The old adage ‘it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’ really holds true in these situations.
Now’s the time to demonstrate all the qualities the hiring manager saw in your when they offered you the job.
This is essential when starting a new job. Regardless of the role, the responsibilities, the people or anything else, starting a new job is mentally taxing.
You’re having to learn a lot in addition to the job you were hired to do which uses a lot of energy.
Build some self-care into your first couple of weeks so you don’t wear yourself out. Factor in some early nights, healthy dinners and balanced breakfasts.
Avoid alcohol if at all possible as hangovers will make your days harder and give the wrong impression.
Also allow 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 needs some training?
Giving yourself the opportunity to unravel your day helps prepare you for tomorrow. And it gives you vital perspective on the challenges you need to overcome.
It also helps you formulate plans and even the beginnings of that strategy you need to work on.
Starting a new Career
If you want to start a new career but you don’t have the right qualifications, we can help.
Stonebridge Associated Colleges is a leading UK distance learning provider. We support thousands of students each year to achieve the qualifications they need to get the job they want.
Check out our full course offering by clicking the link below.
To learn more about online courses and distance learning, check out our blog.