If you have been through a while since you started a new job, you may experience a range of emotions as soon as you start your new position. But those first few weeks at a new job are when you make your first impression and it’s hard to change people’s perceptions as they develop. The author presents five tips on how to move on to a new job, especially if it has been a long time since you made a move. First, focus on building relationships. Second, do your research on the company and its culture. Third, get an understanding of how other people in the company view your role. Fourth, understand the interdependencies and workflows of work to determine who needs something from you and what you depend on to be able to deliver it. Finally, give yourself time to adjust to your new role.
Bill thought he would never give up the comfortable work he had enjoyed for the past decade. But when another company approached him with an offer, it was so intriguing that he got the job. Then the fear started because he had not started a new job for 10 years. He reads The first 90 days and learned that he had to act quickly, so he immediately began to try to solve problems.
Two weeks into his new job, Bill had already solved one problem – his first win. But he was noticing that his colleagues were vague. His boss mentioned causally that he needed to slow down, but did not tell him that complaints were coming in about his approach and work style. Bill did not realize that his first victory was not about achieving a goal – it was about how he accomplished his job.
The first few weeks in a new job are when you make your first impression and it is difficult to change people’s perceptions as they develop. Here are five tips on how to move on to a new job, especially if it has been a long time since you made a move.
This is the most important priority when joining a new company. If you have been in a job for a long time, you may not realize how your relationship had a direct impact on your success. When you build relationships, you are building trust and you can move faster when people believe in your decision making.
How do you build relationships quickly? First, be as curious about others and their work as they are about you as a “newborn.” Understand their roles and how you can value them before proposing any changes. Understanding the needs of your colleagues will begin the process of building relationships because only your interest will let them feel comfortable with your entry.
Second, when making these conversations, respect the story. If people have been in a company for a long time, they have built the foundation and can hold together old systems or processes with a paper clip and Band-Aid due to lack of funds, people or skills. Show respect for what is currently acknowledging the years of hard work it took to get there. Then, in the following conversations, bring your colleagues on the journey of the vision for the future. Do not rush the first step! It can take weeks, months or even a year to build a relationship (partly depending on whether you are in person or at a distance).
Dig deep into the business.
When you start a new company, you probably do not know much about it other than what you read to prepare for interviews. Your new colleagues will see you as someone who knows nothing about business. Spend time learning about company and culture.
Most company websites have an editorial link to all their press releases. If you work for a publicly traded company in the US, take a look at their SEC 10-K report and investor information, which usually includes their annual report. Find out: How does the company make revenue? What products does it sell? How do the products work? What are the quarterly and annual goals? What metrics are used to measure the success of the company and to validate its growth? Where will the company head in the next three to five years? The answers to these questions will help inform how your work relates to the larger organization.
Also, dive deep into the learning of culture. How do people work here? Is the company agile and fast, or more cautious and slow? What affects the speed of business? How do people communicate? By email or chat, or do they pick up the phone and just call at any time? Can all levels communicate with all levels, or is it more hierarchical? No matter what position you are in – beginner or senior – the more you know about the company and the culture, the more effective you can be in aligning your work with the company’s goals and behaving in a way that is consistent with culture.
Understand how others perceive your work.
As you build relationships and learn about the company, also ask questions about how others perceive your work to understand their expectations of you, your role, and your overall function. Just because you have the same title or functional job you had in your last company, the job itself may be quite different and the way you value the role may be different.
When I joined a company, I discovered that each of my stakeholders had a different expectation of my role and a manager had no idea how he viewed my role or how I could use my skills to ‘bring value to his organization. I realized that I would have to spend time adapting everyone to my role and what it was not, so that I could meet their expectations.
Understand the interdependencies and workflows of work to determine who needs something from you and what you depend on to be able to deliver it. To whom are you offering the work result and how do your cross-functional parties use it? Ask your manager who the top 10 people with whom your team interacts with are. Next, spend time understanding how they view workflows between functions and what they need from your role to be successful. Understand workflow time so that you can meet deadlines and give your work as much value as possible.
Give yourself time.
People get jobs and want to feel connected right away, but that doesn’t always happen. It’s hard to get on board any new company and it can be even harder to get on board remotely. Give yourself the grace to go through the Kübler-Ross change curve – at first you will be excited, then you will be shocked by what may be different or more difficult in the new job, and then you will deny that it is that various, which can quickly turn into disappointment. You can even reach a lower mood, a state similar to depression, before you start experimenting and engaging in a way that allows you to feel good about your new job.
Eventually, you will integrate into the new company and feel comfortable. Each person moves through the curve at a different pace, so be patient, breathe, and try to find a person to connect with if you are not already paired with a mentor. Know that change is difficult for almost everyone, so embrace it and know that it is all part of your growth.
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The best way to accomplish all of these steps is to listen rather than talk and express every thought in the form of a question. For example, if you are in a meeting and you have a good idea, you might say, “I think we should do this.” Everyone in the room will either knock you down because it was tried before and fail, b) they will fire you because you are young and do not know the business, or c) they will think it is interesting but you will dismiss you because you new.
Instead, express your data in the form of a question, such as: “I’m curious, have we tried to do that?” If you are wrong because it failed in the past, you will be educated about history and will be seen as someone trying to learn. If it has never been tried before and can work, your curiosity makes you a hero.