There’s more to adjusting to a new job than arranging your desk and finding the best place to grab a bite at lunchtime. In fact, the first few weeks and months at a new job are crucial, and can set you up for success if you make the right moves from the start. According to our career experts, there are at least four key things you need to do to settle in successfully.
1. Study like you’re back in school
Not only should you study organizational charts and internal documents that will shed light on your new employer’s priorities, goals and overall mission statement, but it’s critical you study people, too, says Eli Howayeck, founder and CEO of Crafted Career Concepts. In the first weeks of adjusting to a new job, “observe the daily interactions between leaders and managers,” he instructs, and “take note of interpersonal dynamics.”
By studying your colleagues and boss, and how they interact in the office, you’ll get a feel for the company’s power structure.
“An organizational chart tells you about the formal structures, but you can get a better idea of who really holds sway, power and influence in the organization through observation and listening,” Howayeck explains, adding, “as you get to know your colleagues and make friends, pay attention to who’s respected, who’s not, who’s got influence and who doesn’t.”
2. Start building relationships
According to Joseph Liu, career change consultant and host of the Career Relaunch Podcast, “Your ability to get things done in your organization will be directly tied to the strength of your internal relationships, especially with senior stakeholders, cross-functional colleagues and [your] immediate team.” So, as soon as possible, start to build relationships with those people.
In fact, adjusting to a new job “is the perfect opportunity to begin laying the foundations for strong relationships,” explains Liu, who recommends that you “set up short meetings with key people within the organization. If you’re struggling to identify who these people are, ask your manager or teammates for recommendations and introductions.”
3. Have a meeting with your boss to determine expectations
You read the job description when you applied to your new position, so you have a basic understanding of your company’s expectations of you. But while adjusting to a new job, you need to drill beyond that blurb and ask, “what does your boss really expect from you?” Howayeck says.
Set up a meeting with your boss, and be prepared to ask these questions as they apply to your job: “How do they want to you to communicate? Do they want to know about any problems before, during or after they’re solved? Do they want a hand in decision-making or are they comfortable with you being autonomous? Will you be praised or catch the ire of your manager if you swerve a little outside your lane to find a solution?” asks Howayeck. “This stuff matters, and if you ignore these preferences, you do so at your own risk.”
4. Score some early wins
Liu recommends that any new employee should “aspire to make at least three significant contributions to [his or her] team early on to establish credibility and create momentum for future success.” That may seem like a tall order, but as Liu also points out, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” And that’s just one reason it’s important to “hit the ground running and focus on adding value as quickly as you can,” Liu explains.