I recently caught up with a friend and colleague for a cup of coffee. We were catching up on each other’s lives, and work, when the conversation turned to another mutual friend who was about to start a new job. And we began discussing some of the best things you can do to improve your chances of success when you’re new to an organization. Here are the top four, straight-forward, common-sense things that we came up with that can make all the difference to starting off on the right foot.
Now’s your time to shut up.
Yes it’s harsh, but it’s true. You’ve already got the job, and convinced the company and management team that you have significant value to add. They know this. But your first few months should be about learning about the new company and also the best way to navigate it. This is important because at the same time, your new colleagues will be weighing up whether you will fit in. It’s an important time to figure out and absorb the company culture, and the “right way” to get things done. Have you just entered a team based environment, where it’s more important to the culture that the group has discovered, together, a new product, service, or delivery mechanism? Or do people find success via deep analytics, and a well packaged delivery of a business plan?
The point is, in the first few months, try your best to stay quiet. Not shy, not disengaged, but enter each day in a mode of listening, watching, and learning. You will know when it is time to start executing and making change. But I guarantee it isn’t day one (or even week one, or month one).
No one cares where you came from.
Well not exactly, but let me explain. Your new coworkers and management team don’t want to hear about how you did things at your last company. It gets old, quickly. If you’ve got a great idea, sure, share it (see #1 for timing), but do not go around telling everyone all day that your last firm did it this way, and somehow that’s the right way to do it. Companies are organisms – living, breathing animals with their own ecosystem. You are a new entry to that ecosystem, and while it is expected that you will add value and make changes, the organization doesn’t want a radical takeover from the inside. Think organ transplant. You are a new liver, okay gross, but do your job, and do it well before you start spouting off about how you know better than everyone else. You might mean well, but it comes across arrogant and egotistical- this is not the right way to start your new career.
This is your one shot at being someone else.
I don’t mean pretending to be someone you aren’t, however the new company and your new coworkers do not know you yet. Were you given feedback at the old company that you weren’t analytical enough? Change it day one. Too loud? Quiet down. Hate your first name? Go by your middle name now (yes I’ve seen this happen many times). Didn’t dress like upper management before – start with your new wardrobe. The point is you do not yet have a track record or reputation, and now is your opportunity to reset your career self. Are you going to be able to fix every last issue you’ve ever been given feedback about? Probably not. But you can throw away all of the old baggage and make a new start. First impressions are everything – recognize this as an opportunity and do not waste it.
Never underestimate the power of a coffee.
I’m not taking about the shot of caffeine, or the beauty of a perfectly made Flat White (thank you Australia for this personal addiction). I’m talking about asking others to sit down for a short conversation. When you start at a new company, you are an unknown and an outsider. Sometimes you get the immediate courtesy invites for lunch, or a coffee break. But the reality is that this is completely up to you. No one else owes it to you to make you successful. Take it upon yourself to meet with your new coworkers and management team. One by one, over a cup of coffee. Get to know your colleagues both as professionals and as individuals. You will find connections, learn about their working style, create a new support system, and maybe even make some new friends. When you start to make changes at the firm, and seek new ideas and support, these new friends become invaluable. You will also be seen for who you are, a true team player – someone who values others for what they can contribute, and seeks to build greatness and broad reaching success.
That is you, right?
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