Starting a new job can be daunting regardless of the company and role, and the first few days and weeks can be instrumental in setting you up for success before you get lost in the work. These tips can help you get the most out of your first interactions, and ensure you’re ready for challenges that will inevitably get thrown your way.
Introduce yourself, a lot:
No matter the role or team you’re on, it’s important to introduce yourself far and wide within the company. You won’t likely know exactly who you’ll actually end up working with, so getting intros out of the way early on can help you to avoid an awkward interaction months into your tenure at the company. Even if you’re not a social butterfly, make an effort to at least say a quick hi - it’ll be worth it.
The first few weeks on a new job are your chance to not know things, and you can blame a lot on the fact that you’re new. Ask questions when they come up - of superiors, peers, and people across the business - to accelerate your learning and to get a broader understanding of the company, your team and role.
Even if you’re not exactly sure what you’re saying yes to, it’s often wise to accept exciting opportunities that come your way early on. Perhaps a different team is looking for help on a project, or your manager has an unexpected request come up; Regardless of the ask, diving right in can earn you respect early on, as well as help you to learn more quickly about the business and the potential you’ll have there.
New jobs often start with (at least) a bit of ambiguity, so it’s only natural to want to take some time to get your bearings before committing to goals - but it is worth setting at least some preliminary targets to help you focus early on. Even if your goals end up changing, they can help to set you on the right track when you first start… or help you to realize that a different path would be better. Many companies have best practices around putting together a 30-60-90 day plan to structure priorities and help you communicate expectations during those intro meetings.
Keep a list of problems/roadblocks:
Once you’ve been at an organization for a while, some of the issues can fade as they appear to be normal, so coming with a fresh set of eyes can be of huge value to your team and the rest of the company. To be sure, you don’t want to be the person coming in and complaining from day one, so simply keep a list of things you might change given the opportunity, then decide which to address once you’ve settled into the role and team a bit more.
Ask to be included:
Once you’ve become more established at the company, it can be awkward to ask to be included in projects or meetings that you weren’t previously part of - but being new gives you the crutch of not knowing. Use this to your advantage, and ask to be included in anything of interest to you. The worst answer you can get is no - and even then, you’ll at least come off as a curious colleague, which is typically a highly valued quality.
Figure out who you need to know:
While you won’t want to come off as the gossip, it is important to know who has sway and influence in an organization, so keep an eye out for cues as to who really runs the show. And it often won’t be who you think; Being friendly with a executive’s personal assistant, for example, can often help to keep you in the loop on important conversations and decisions.
Figure out early on who’s on your side, and cultivate a relationship with them. Even if you don’t end up working together, it’s important to form friendships in any workplace - for your sanity, professional network, and more.
Get to know your team:
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the beginning of a new job is prime time to really get to know your team. You generally get a bit of a pass when it comes to your output in the first few weeks, so take the time to set up one-on-ones, lunches, or whatever it takes to integrate into the larger team. In addition to understanding what each person is responsible for within the business, do what you can to get to know them as people, as building authentic relationships generally leads to more effective collaboration and fewer tensions when resources are constrained.