Unemployment is high and companies are contracting rather than expanding. However, there are still some people out there being hired, changing jobs, and being added to staff rather than downsized. In this economy, and in fact during any time, how do you know when you’ve gotten off on the right foot in a new job? And what are some of the things you should do to make sure that you make the biggest impact in the short and long-term?
I. Meet Everyone
One of the most significant contributors to new job success is relationships. Every business is fundamentally a people business, and developing the right relationships early on will fuel a person’s success in their new role more than almost anything else, including work product or quality, which is always left to the eye of the beholder to judge.
Meeting everyone and developing relationships is not necessarily about hand shaking on day one of your new job, but about immediately figuring out how to get to know those with the most influence in the office, and beginning to develop strong rapport with people like the office gossip, the boss’s secretary, and even the office bully. Getting to know these people early on will bode you well in the future when you or they may need a favor.
II. Find a Buddy
Another way to get off on the right foot in a new job is to find a ‘buddy’, or better yet a mentor who can also play the role of buddy every now and then. An office ‘buddy’ is that person at work you can confide in, talk discretely to about work problems or co-workers you don’t like, and bounce ideas off of without having what you say get around the office in an inappropriate way. Sometimes a mentor can play both roles, and sometimes it makes more sense to have both a buddy and a mentor.
It will take some time to develop relationships and identify that person or persons who can be your work buddy, and who you can be a buddy to as well. But the important thing is to find one, for those inevitable days in the future, when you’re struggling with something at work and really need to talk it out with someone who can relate because they’re working in the same environment.
It’s also a good idea to get a mentor. Mentors don’t always need to be working in the same company or office as you, and might be from a previous job. However, in any new role, as you navigate a new office culture, work expectations and rules, it’s good to have someone you respect who can help to guide you through some of the uncertainties and give you advice on how to stay focused on building long-term success in your job.
III. Focus on Learning Rather than Doing
A lot of people, when they start a new job, immediately jump in and start focusing on how to ‘do’ as much as possible, to get a new project started, or impress their co-workers, or to come off as really productive and high-energy. However, starting a new job in this way has its drawbacks, especially if you don’t give yourself a good amount of time to absorb, learn and reflect.
Many managers have walked into a new job, and without observing and reflecting on the existing people and process, come in with an ax or a red pen on day one, and immediately begin making changes. They do this sometimes because they think it’s expected of them, and other times because they think it’s the right thing to do, or both. And maybe they are expected to make changes, and they are the right changes to make, but maybe not right now. Anyone coming into a new job needs to take time – time to learn their co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses, time to have a dialogue about what works and doesn’t work before they propose any changes, and time to simply get a lay of the new job landscape. Doing this may mean that you won’t make a big splash in your first week or even month on the job, but it will most likely bode well for your longer-term success on the job.
Finally, how you proceed in your new job is all about adapting to a new environment and learning how to apply your previous success without duplicating it “because that’s the way we did it at my last company.” Expect almost everything in the new job to be different from your last job, and give yourself time to move from feeling sometimes uncomfortable to feeling like you’ve found your groove. In no time at all, the new job won’t be so new anymore.
by Melanie Haniph