Your First 90 Days Only Happens Once
You have probably heard the expression, “you never get a second chance at a first impression”. Why do we say things like that? First and foremost, because there is a lot of truth and wisdom in them. In today’s pandemic-influenced business environment, we live in a world of furloughs, lay-offs and job elimination. So, we have a lot of people shuffling around in the job market and many people beginning new positions in new organizations. It’s very much like your first day in high school, new people, new procedures, new office layout to learn, industry language & abbreviations you perhaps don’t know yet plus cliques and relationships to navigate.
The first three months for you in this new environment is your chance to prove someone made the right decision by hiring you. The things you do and say will add to or subtract from the scrutiny and judgment you will no doubt encounter overtly or covertly. You will probably have lots of questions and concerns running through your mind, no less the top ones being whether your supervisor believes they made the right call by bringing you on. Am I going to fit in with the team? Am I going to be able to learn the ropes around here quickly and effectively? How can I merge my previous experience with what they are currently doing to show I can bring some expertise and value to this situation without alienating anyone?
Having these things in mind, here are a few things to consider as you begin your new role:
Understand Your Supervisor’s Expectations
This is more than likely the most important one. I have seen many people try to jump in with both feet and they end up overdoing it right away. The have an overwhelming desire to prove to everyone they belong here and that they have so much to offer. They end up being perceived as a know-it-all and as a maverick employee who doesn’t bother to learn what it’s like to work here. At that point, your results do not matter because the impression about you has already been formed based on things that were in your control. Talk through the expectations and walk before you run. Be open and honest about where you might need support and help, don’t fake it until you make it.
Understand How Your Supervisor Is Measured On Success
Ask them what they are evaluated on. This gives you insight into how to best help them. You will be successful helping others, especially your supervisor attain success for themselves. If you can understand what your manager cares about most, you’ll drastically increase your chances of forming a closer relationship with them.
Understand the Company Culture
Usually the first thirty days of your first ninety days are less busy as they are when you really get into the swing of the new position. This should give you time to learn the core values, the mission and the vision of the new company. Also, you can learn a lot by watching. Some companies will have a good onboarding program to teach you about the desired culture they are trying to build. What they won’t tell you is about the actual daily culture that is right outside your door. For that, you will need to watch and listen intently to see and observe the daily behaviors of your teammates. This can be a huge asset if you pay attention.
Understand Your Organization’s Customers
Regardless of your job in the company, every employee has customer accountabilities. You also have the job of helping to fix your organization’s customers’ problems. You need to learn about them as much as possible as quickly as possible. It doesn’t matter if you have been in the same industry for many years, many times the customers’ mindsets and needs are different. Perhaps your new company is approaching customers in a different and unique way which is strategically differentiating them in the marketplace. You need to know that inside and out to be successful in this new role.
Avoid The Politics
While is important to observe the culture and other employees in action so you’ll know how business gets done here, what you don’t want to do is get involved in the politics of the organization. Make efforts to form relationships with your colleagues but don’t participate in the gossip and rumor mill activities. You first three months is a time to establish yourself as a team player that is valuable, not to become known as a gossip.
Remember, you never get to do your first ninety days over again. Most likely, these early days will set the foundation for your personal brand for the remainder of your tenure.