How to Survive the First Few Weeks in Your New Job
So you landed your dream job and you start next Monday. Congratulations - you beat out dozens of candidates that applied and set yourself apart from the handful that got interviewed. It is now time to live up to the expectation created and make an impact with your new employer.
Hopefully you have a good indication from your recruiter or their HR contact about what to expect and have had a running dialog with your line manager so you aren't going in cold. Even better if they have shared your induction schedule with you already and you have a desk and email address waiting for you. Sadly I still hear about people turning up for their first day and reception doesn’t know who they are or allow them access to site.
Besides the obvious stay calm, smile and remember to breathe, here are some survival tips to get you through your first few weeks.
1. Keep in Touch
I often encourage candidates to get in touch with their soon to be line manager while they are working their notice period. It can be weird to find out you got the job and then not speak to the person who was responsible for employing you until you start. Get the relationship working early before your head is overloaded with information. If appropriate have an informal coffee to meet the team so you will know some friendly faces on day one.
2. Treat Everyone as Important
You don't know who the key influencers are in the business so take the time out to listen to everyone equally and judge for yourself. Dismiss any gossip you hear and steer clear of office politics while you can. You will soon find out who has an axe to grind and which departments work well together. Form your own opinions.
3. Be a Social Butterfly
Welcome offers of lunch and introduction meetings to help you get up to speed with what is going on and important projects/issues for certain departments. Often you will find out more in the informal meet then large scale committee type meetings.
4. Don't Jump into the Tactical Too Soon
There will be certain expectations on achievables from day one, but as a senior comms professional, your focus needs to be on understanding your stakeholders' needs and building relationships. If you dive straight into delivery without finding out what your stakeholders' need it will be difficult to switch into strategic adviser mode later on. This is hard to do as most people feel compelled to step in and start producing, but set the scene; you need to listen and observe before you can advise with conviction. Do they really want someone who is guessing at the solution without researching need?
5. Ask the Stupid Questions
You are new so it is allowed and will probably benefit others who feel they can't ask. The business may use industry lingo that baffles or are stuck in a mind-set so will value your fresh perspective or in the very least be reminded that not all colleagues understand the jargon.
6. Step Away from the Desk
Get out into the business and meet people at all levels. Find out what the vibe is on the shop floor or what the challenges for engagement are with field based teams. The information you take away will be valuable to the leadership team. I once had a candidate who went undercover in a customer facing role for a few weeks before she started her role as Director of Comms. The information she picked up was invaluable and she certainly got the buy in from the board.
7. Ask For Feedback
Find out from your stakeholders how things are going – wh at is working, what needs improving. Don’t fish for compliments but have open and honest conversations with your line manager to gauge how they feel you are performing and make sure you are clear on expectation and measurement of success.
8. Don't be Too Hard on Yourself
Rome wasn't built in a day and I usually tell my candidates to be happy if they get everyone’s name right and can find the toilets in week one! It can take three to six months before you are settled into the role so take one week at a time. You will get there!
By Julie Mazzei, Managing Consultant, VMA GROUP North and Midlands