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6 simple but crucial things you must do in your first 3 months on the job

Executive coach Neena Newberry reveals quick strategies to hit the ground running, develop relationships, and start showing your value.   

6 simple but crucial things you must do in your first 3 months on the job
[Photo: gahsoon/Getty Images]

The world has changed dramatically in two short years, leading many of us to pause and reset. If you’re like the millions of employees who left their companies to pursue something different, you might have gotten a bit more than you bargained for.  

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You may have only met your team on video and be feeling a bit disconnected. Instead of having memorable experiences with people, you may be memorizing names and faces, trying to figure out who to go to for what, or wondering how to get more visibility.  

That smooth onboarding experience you expected might feel more like a bumpy ride.  

The good news is that you can use some quick strategies to hit the ground running, develop relationships, and start showing your value.   

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Start building your personal brand

Start by identifying the top three things you would want someone to know about you. For example, it could be the types of problems you are good at solving, what you’re passionate about, the results you have achieved, and how they should tap into your strengths. By being clear and intentional, you’ll be able to naturally bring this into conversations and help people more quickly understand who you are.  

Define success

One of the most valuable exercises you can do is define success for your role. In other words, what will you deliver in the first six months and the first year? Ask others, especially your manager, for their input, too. You’ll quickly get a sense of where you can have the biggest impact in your role and if any expectations are out of sync.  

Ask what you can’t later

In the first 90 days in your role, you will have the latitude to ask sensitive questions as someone who is new and learning. So, ask the most critical ones. Find out “how we really do things around here” and any unwritten rules you should be aware of. This will give you valuable insight into company culture and the dynamics of the group, and avoid land mines.  

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Ask who should be included in different types of decisions and how decisions get made. This will help you identify formal and informal leaders. Don’t get distracted by the company’s organizational chart. Instead, find out who matters most to the success of your role and team and how supportive they are.  

Balance relationships and results

Even if you’re gung ho about showing that you are the right person for the job, err on the side of getting to know people and helping them get to know you in the first few months. It will lay the foundation for a stronger, trusting relationship. It doesn’t have to be time consuming either. Scheduling even 10 minutes to take a personal interest in others and introducing yourself can go a long way. Just show up with genuine curiosity and the desire to make good use of the time. You don’t have to have a formal agenda. People will appreciate the authenticity.  

Temper your desire to be responsive and show that you can deliver with a need to stay focused on the most critical work. You may be tempted to respond immediately regardless of the urgency or priority of a request. Define what “responsive” really means to you and clarify the turnaround time instead of making assumptions. Remember that we teach people how to treat us, so be careful about the expectations you set early on.  

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Develop relationships at all levels

Don’t make the mistake of focusing on cultivating relationships just with people more senior to you. Feedback from your peers can have a huge impact on how your boss and others view you. Get suggestions about who you should get to know and what is important to know about them. Then establish a regular cadence of meetings with them, even if it’s once per quarter or for only 15 minutes. Use that time to check in, ask about their priorities and challenges, offer help, and share some of your own successes. 

Set the tone for how to work with you

If you had to give someone advice on how to best work with you, what would you tell them? For example, how do you prefer to communicate: the best methods, frequency, and forums? Do you have a hands-on or hands-off leadership style? How much do you like to give or receive formal or informal feedback? Take the mystery out of the equation. Your team and your manager could definitely benefit from knowing this information, as would others. 

If you’ve already passed the 90-day mark at your new company or role, don’t worry. These strategies can still help you keep building relationships, learning about the organization, and adding value. 

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Neena Newberry is the president of Newberry Solutions and adjunct faculty member at SMU Executive Education.


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