Our top selling Notebook Mentor during 2020 has thus far been ‘The 1st 90 days in my new job’ – surprising really given everything that has gone on. Out there, people like you are still finding jobs and still progressing their careers. Hurrah.
Job-hunting in a time of crisis can be unnerving, even scary, especially if you decided to make some compromises in the spirit of paying the bills, and keeping your mind, body and spirit positive. Quite frankly, anyone who has been able to find themselves a job during such extraordinary circumstances should be applauded. In years to come recruiters and employers alike will respect and admire the choices you have made – acknowledging that for some they may have been short-term or outside of a defined career plan. Whatever you have chosen to do, you are learning and adding to your skills.
If you have been lucky enough to secure a new job, then ensuring you land with positive impact is especially important and this could be impeded if you are starting your induction, socially distant from your new colleagues.
Here are some key tips to consider as you get going:
1. Give yourself a break
Lots of career advice books encourage you to prepare ahead for a new role. This includes building on what you already know about your new company or line manager, meeting up with members of the team before you start, perhaps undertaking induction training via an employee portal or interrogating the company intranet if you have early access to it. While it can be very tempting to get involved quickly, we urge you to use any time off between signing a contract and starting a new job, wisely.
- Let yourself recover from what went before (especially if this was a stressful six months of job hunting!)
- Let your mind wander and decompress
- Review what happened in your previous role with a fresh perspective. What did you achieve? How were you perceived? What might you have done differently? You don’t need to dwell on the past too much if it stirs up negative emotions, but learning how to look at your experience objectively, such that you can move on, is very useful. And if you had a great experience, reflecting on what made it so great is good information to know for what is to come.
- Do all the things you’ve been wanting to do for a while but haven’t had the time or inclination to do – especially those ‘frogs’ that need eating – the boring, time-consuming domestic stuff that you never get around to – but should! File your paperwork, pay your bills, change your energy supplier, book the car in for that service – you will feel super smug when you’ve ticked them off your to-do list!
- Treat your mind, body and spirit with kindness. Hydrate yourself, sleep a bit more if need be, eat healthily, take some exercise! You don’t have to be a saint, but you will need energy for what is to come. Once you start your new role, there’ll be less time for all the things you wish you could have done when you were off.
When you start a new job, it’s always a full-on ride, right? So take your time and keep your time personal.
2. Start by listening, rather than doing
Listening instead of doing is so much easier ‘said’ than ‘done’. Let’s consider for a moment why we are even saying this?
You’ve started day one. Perhaps you are working from home? Perhaps you’re doing a key worker role and you’re expected at the factory or on the front-line? Maybe you’ll be working flexibly, partly at home and partly in an office? Perhaps you’ll be working in a retail store? Whatever the scenario, the first thing that happens when you start a new job is that you’re expected to meet lots of colleagues (maybe suppliers, customers or partners).
No doubt they have been saving up plenty of actions and ‘to do’s’ to be handed off to the new person (by the way, this rings true no matter the level or grade of your job!). You’ve arrived and hopefully, you’ll ease everyone else’s workload. It’s tempting to instantaneously link ‘getting on with stuff’ with ‘making a good impression’ – and in some instances, this can ring true. Doing is a key part of everyone’s job. But do us a big favour and remember to listen, at least as much, as you offer opinions, or get stuck into things. It matters for a host of reasons. Here’s why:
- You’re new. Right now, you are hopefully unencumbered by opinions about your employer, team or manager. Now is the time when you will see things objectively.
- Right now, you shouldn’t be worried about how you are performance ranked against your peers (it’s too early to tell). You likely won’t carry too many biases (at least not consciously) about people, the company strategy or goals, about what’s getting done.
- As you start a new job, your mind should be like a sponge – happy to soak everything up. If you’re talking a lot, doing a lot of generally offering your opinions and ideas a lot, then you’re not listening to what other people have to say. Their opinions matter most now – because now you will see them objectively.
- Showing others that you can knuckle down and get on with a lot might win you some friends early on (and let’s face it, there’s nothing wrong with being diligent). However, being last out of the office, or the person putting their hand up to take on more and more, is just as likely to worry people that you are trying too hard. Pace yourself!
Active listening is all about putting great effort into hearing, understanding and acknowledging someone else. It takes enormous effort. It’s tiring, often time-consuming and always difficult to do really, really well. If you find yourself forming a question in your head when you’re talking to someone, or perhaps waiting for a pause in the conversation, to jump in with your brilliant idea – then you are not actively listening!
When starting a new job:
- Listen to the insights of your colleagues.
- Pay attention to what is said and how it is said.
- Pay attention to what is ‘not said’ – unspoken rules, entrenched practices, ideals and ways of working.
- Put yourself in other people’s shoes. Try to see the world as they do.
- Ask lots of questions of clarification to ensure that the message sent is the same message received.
- When offering your thoughts and opinions, talk as ‘we’ – using language that makes you part of this new team, rather than someone who is external, looking in. Avoid talking about how you used to do things at your old employer unless you can connect it positively to the current situation.
- Keep a journal of your everyday observations, thoughts and feelings. Every Notebook Mentor has a Further Reflections section after Chapter 5. Keeping a log of what you are hearing, seeing, thinking and feeling could come in handy later down the line. Take a look at our blog on ‘Reflective practice‘.
3. Attend to the obvious
However, you start your new job (remotely, in an office or shop) work at the basics (or be willing to ask for help). It might sound obvious but it’s worth understanding:
- How to set up or sign into the favoured collaboration technology. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself scrambling around trying to get into Teams, Zoom or Hangouts, with everyone else waiting for you. It’s stressful and it doesn’t make the best first impression.
- Know how to access shared documents on your company devices – in the cloud, on One Drive, through the intranet. Wherever they are.
- Do your reading on basic company policies and procedures – especially around key things like social distancing, home working, holidays, sickness, discipline, grievance, managing customer data, cybersecurity etc. You may not ever need to apply these policies, but it’s at the very least worth knowing where you can find them. And read the company employee handbook!
- Do any mandatory training you must do.
- Check out the company intranet or directory to find out the hierarchies and teams associated with your team. Find out who’s who!
- If you’re going into an office, site or store make sure you have the right security clearance, badges, passes and uniform (if such a thing is required).
- Ask someone to show you around and show you the ropes.
- Check out the intranet and find out any useful information about the company’s goals, mission, purpose or financial targets. You may not yet know how you will contribute to these, but it will help accelerate your learning about how you can make an early impact.
- If it’s easy to do, why not experience what the company does as a customer (not so easy if you’re working in insurance, but super easy if you’re selling in a shop)? Listen and learn from what you see.
- Embrace any offered induction with open arms.
4. Build relationships
Finally, don’t forget to make a positive early impression with colleagues. Get to know people at a personal level – take an interest in their background, family, hobbies and job experiences. Hopefully, your colleagues will do the same with you.
Build a relationship with your line manager. Every person is different and perhaps it might take a bit of time to get used to this new person. Don’t be frightened to ask for time with them and listen carefully to what they have to say.
If you’re starting a new job and you’re the line manager, then it’s equally good to do the above with your team. You don’t have to make any promises about the future, but you can tune into the experiences your team has had in the past.
Most of all start your new job with an open, curious and inquisitive mind!
Everyone at Notebook Mentor wishes you luck!
For more information about how Notebook Mentor can help you or your business, go to www.notebookmentor.com