So, You Got The Job. Now What? 8 Steps to Take from Day One
The interview was tough. The competition was fierce. The process was lengthy. The decision’s been made and the job is yours. Your first day has arrived. Do you know what to do to begin making every day count? Follow these 8 steps right from the start.
1. Think of the reputation you want to have as you exit your new role. It’s not too early to think this way. Stephen Covey challenges his audience to “begin with the end in mind.” Imagine that you’ve successfully performed in your new role and you are interviewing for a position in the future. What will you be known for? What examples will you have to share in your next interview about your successes, failures, and key learnings?
2. Understand the phases you’ll experience in your new job.
Honeymoon – Once your courtship with your new employer is complete, you’ll enter the honeymoon phase. During this time period you’ll think everything is wonderful. The new people, policies, and processes will all be exciting.
Reality – As you begin to settle in to your role, you may find that the job is harder than you thought, the resources are fewer than you’d like, and the days are longer than you had hoped. Remind yourself why you were selected: your education, credentials, experience, and talents. And why you accepted the offer: the growth opportunity, compensation package, proximity to home, etc. Seek out the advice of a mentor or other trusted advisor to help you successfully navigate this time and keep a healthy perspective.
Self-Actualization – Once you know what and who you have to work with and have mastered your day-to-day tasks, you’ll have the opportunity to really carve out your niche. At this stage, you have probably become a trusted advisor for many within your sphere of influence.
3. Meet with the following individuals. Remember who interviewed you? It’s time to meet with them again. This time you’ll be reviewing what they communicated to you during the interview process and filling in any gaps. Clarify what they think the top priorities are for your new role. Ask them who your key stakeholders are as well as who they think are the most successful performers in similar roles. Now you have more individuals to meet with.
Be sure to review these priorities and other findings with your boss, who may have something different in mind. Alignment with your boss is critical to the success of your working relationship. For more strategies on how to manage your relationship with your manager, see my article, 12 Tips for Managing Your Boss.
4. Be quick to listen and slow to speak. Be prepared to be paid a visit by the office gossip. Don’t know who that is yet? You soon will. Choose your responses carefully, otherwise you may find yourself the new topic of their conversation.
Don’t say anything negative about your employer, your boss, your customers on social media outlets. It doesn’t matter what your privacy settings are, your message will get back to them.
5. Define Roles and Responsibilities. People will try to get you to say “yes” to all sorts of things that may or may not fall within your job description. Once you’ve taken ownership, it’s hard, if not impossible to release it without some backlash. Practice saying: “Let me think about the best way to approach that and get back to you.” Now you have time to meet with your boss to discuss and review your priorities.
What made you successful in your previous role may not be what’s required in your new one. This is especially true for new people managers. If you are now managing former peers, let them know that your responsibilities have changed and as a result, your working relationship will need to change as well.
6. Clarify your expectations. Be careful how you approach your work in the beginning. Although all new roles require a ramp-up and learning period, be realistic about your hours. If you start out by coming in early, staying late, and working all weekend, this is the bar you are setting for yourself. So, when you are asked during your next review to increase your output by 10-15%, what will you do?
7. Be responsive. This does not mean that you have tuck your Blackberry or iPhone under your pillow at night. You should, however, seek to respond to requests with at least an acknowledgement of receipt within 24 hours. Some requests will receive higher priority than others – those from your boss, their boss, your employees, and your customers. Remember that part of your response may be to re-direct someone to an alternative resource.
8. Seize opportunities to make your boss, your peers, and your employees look good. There are plenty of people who take credit for the ideas of others and have what I call a “consumption-only” approach to professional relationships. Don’t be one of them. Be collaborative and quick to give out sincere praise. Your colleagues will appreciate your genuine approach and you will build a reputation for being trustworthy.
If you are a new people manager, in addition to the 8 steps above, consider adding The First 90 Days to your reading list. This practical book provides a detailed, diagnostic approach for those new to people management and will guide you through specific steps on how to assess and maximize the performance of your new team.