How to Make Your First Three Months at a New Job Count

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(New employee at the office)

Wow. You aced the job interview and landed the position. You are ready to start working. But hold up, while you may have pulled out all the stops during the interview, the real work is just beginning.

Your first three months on the job is the period in which you must not only show, but prove. This time is vital to setting the tone of your work and employment as well as your relationship with your boss, co-workers and clients.

“You never get a second chance to make a positive first impression, and the first three months is when most of your team and cross functionals will be forming their judgments about you,” explains career change consultant/certified career coach Joseph Liu, host of Career Relaunch podcast.

Adds Shefali Raina, an executive coach with The Wall Street Coach, “Contrary to pop culture, your first three months at a job are not a honeymoon; they are the key drivers of how you are viewed as a professional and a person, what results you might be able to deliver and what your initial career trajectory might be at the new company…Take your first three months very seriously, starting from day 1, and sharply focus on demonstration competence, building networks, developing influence and establishing your brand.”

Here are some career moves you should make during your first three months at a new job:

–”Be collaborative and competent at your job and start with small high impact wins,” advises Raina. “You were hired for a job and your company expects that you will hit the ground running. Focus on your job and start delivering on the components of your role. When making changes, consider executing on small wins that have high impact, instead of making big changes right away. Take the time to understand details better before you rush to make the big changes. Stay collaborative in the process–this is not about “my way or the highway”, but what is truly good for the company.”

–Make friends and allies early. “Proactively build networks and alliances,” offers Raina. “Proactively reach out to all the decision makers and key team members across each function that is connected to your role and initiate relationship building. Focus on your stakeholders and understand what each of them needs. Build authentic and collaborative relationships with your team. Get an understanding of the stated and informal culture of the organization. And, avoid gossip at all costs.”

–Make some lunch dates. “Don’t wait for someone at work, your boss or a coworker to ask you to lunch. You ask them to join you,” suggests Laura Handrick, HR analyst at FitSmallBusiness .com. “Taking the initiative to get to know your peers in your first 90 days is going to set you apart. Make time outside of the workplace to learn about your co-workers, supervisor, peers in your department, peers in other departments, and even top customers. You don’t have to pay for lunch, but do call them up and schedule it.” This is not just to break bread, but to connect with your colleagues and learn more about the company.

–Learn as much as you can. “As much as we want to rely on HR or a new manager to communicate and explain all the nuances of a new role, it doesn’t happen that way. The quality of onboarding programs varies dramatically from one company to the next as do management styles, training programs, and organizational culture,” says Dory Wilson, a people development expert and founder of Your Office Mom. “New hires can’t be passive bystanders. They need to step up and take the initiative to learn and figure out how things work on their own.”

–Look for a mentor within the company. “A mentor is someone informal who can answer those tacit-knowledge questions that you might not feel comfortable asking the boss. Often, a good company will provide you with a peer-mentor during on-boarding. But even if they don’t, ask your supervisor who is a good go-to person I could ask questions about the job or company protocol?’  Often, whether they use the title of ‘mentor’ or not, that person can help you navigate around the landmines, avoid common newbie mistakes, and understand who the real decision makers are,” notes Handrick.

–Ask for feedback. “Don’t wait for a 6- or 12-month performance review,” stresses Handrick. “Ask your supervisor how you’re doing after the first week, first month, first 90 days and be open (not defensive) when they share it with you. Just asking shows that you care about work performance. Getting their feedback and responding to it in a positive way, goes a long way to show your employer you’re a learner, adaptable and open to improvement. Most employers will value those traits.”