Make your mark at a new job in the first 30 days
Presidents and prime ministers around the world are evaluated on the first 100 days of their terms. Whether or not that’s fair, the first few months on the job lay the foundation for their time in office, and often set the tone for the years to come.
Thankfully, not everyone is cut out to be a politician, but people starting a new job have a lot to gain by getting off on the right foot.
Here are a few tips on how to make your mark at a new job in the first 30 days.
Come up with a game plan
Sit down with your boss on your first day on the job and establish realistic goals and a timeline. This is an essential tool that will give you a clear idea of what’s expected and what to focus on. Without it, you’ll be steering blind and may quickly lose your bearings in a new company. Keep in mind, these goals will also be used to objectively measure your progress during the first few months.
Once you’ve set your objectives with your boss, you should start giving him or her a regular progress report.
“This could also be as informal as a doorway chat,” says Mathieu Constantineau, CRHA, career transition and job search consultant with Cible-Emploi, in the Lower Laurentians. “ But it’s important. Your boss needs to know how you’re making out. If they review your progress after a month, without any previous follow-up, they may make certain assumptions about the amount of work you’ve put in, which may not be accurate.”
Apart from highlighting the progress you’ve made, implementing a plan and following it closely shows that you’re organized and results-oriented. Do it.
Socialize with your colleagues
When you start a new job, you have to seize any opportunity to get to know your colleagues, whether it’s an informal lunch, after-hours drink, or a chat by the watercooler. This way, you’ll get a sense of the office’s rhythm and culture, its unwritten rules and hierarchy. Yes, getting to know your new colleagues can be very intimidating; they are measuring you up and judging you (you would do the same in their shoes). Before you have a panic attack, though, remember that your new colleagues are rooting for you. They want you to be an asset to the team. They want you to be a key part of a happy workplace.
Try to maintain a positive, outgoing attitude throughout your day-to-day office interactions. To get the conversational ball rolling, make the conversation about them. Ask about your colleagues’ day-to-day work, families, hobbies: no one can resist an opportunity to talk about themselves, and by asking questions, you come across as someone that is friendly and interested in getting to know them.
For the more introverted among us, this can be very stressful, but the idea is to force yourself out of your comfort zone, at least for the short-term, until your new colleagues get to know you a bit more. If you need more help, check out our Introvert’s Guide to Life in the Office.
Be flexible and open minded
When you start a new job, you’ll have to live with uncertainty.
“Everything will be new to you, so take the time to get acquainted with internal systems and processes,” says Constantineau. “You will have to demonstrate a high degree of autonomy, but don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. The more you ask, the easier and quicker it will be for you to settle in.”
Also, avoid criticizing your new colleagues’ way of doing things: keep your opinion to yourself and try to get a feel for how the company operates. Your colleagues will be more receptive to suggestions once you’ve earned their respect.
Show that you care
The best way to earn your new colleagues’ respect is to show that you care about your work and the company’s objectives. If your new team is struggling to meet a deadline, for example, it might not be a good idea to leave at 5 on the dot. Ask how you can help and get involved.
In your first month, your work should also be impeccable. Double and triple check everything you hand in. Mistakes always happen, but by setting standards high, you’ll make a great first impression and let your colleagues know that you can be trusted and relied upon.
Be on your best behaviour
When you first start a new job, it’s a good idea to always arrive early and ready (punctuality, as they say, is the politeness of kings). Be well rested and prepared to put in a solid day of work. It’s also a good idea to stay away from confrontation and disagreements – that means limiting political discussions.
Remember that you have been invited to join a team. Make it easy for them to accept you.
Be honest (even with yourself)
Just because you’re on your best behavior, it doesn’t mean you can’t be yourself. Remember that part of getting to know other people is to let them know who you are. Don’t be afraid to be honest, even if that sets you apart.
It’s also important to be honest with yourself. There’s a major difference between new job stress and the unshakeable feeling that you simply don’t belong there. If, after several weeks, you’re asking yourself what you’re doing there, and dread going to work in the morning, chances are this isn’t the job for you.
“From day one, you should be asking yourself if this is a good fit. Do your career goals align with the company?” says Constantineau. “If you’re trying hard and it just isn’t working for you, it might not be the right place for you. Be honest with yourself, and stay confident. You’ll find the right job somewhere else.”