By: Essie Bester
The ability to switch to a new position is a necessary skill for anyone with ambition.
Research shows that your first 100 days (that is, the first three month) in a new job are decisive. This is a critical time during which you have to make a positive impression and lay a meaningful basis for the future.
Here is a quick guide to ensure that you excel during your first quarter in your new job and impress your boss:
Consider visiting the company and meeting your new team prior to joining them officially. Apart from it helping to calm your nerves, it shows initiative and enthusiasm and gives you the opportunity to:
Revise your role in the company;
Identify key interested parties;
Clarify the most important challenges and opportunities for yourself;
Meet your new team and colleagues;
Determine what the different aspects of your work situation entail.
Do your homework before you start
Read anything you can lay your hands on regarding your new company’s mission, vision, values, strong points and challenges. This will better prepare you for the handling of problem situations you may encounter on the job, and enable you to join in discussions when matters are brought to the fore.
Look at your job description and any additional information once again, including leadership conduct, capability frameworks and company values. If you are going to take on a personnel management position – ask for job descriptions for each of your new team members and an organogram to gain an understanding of what everyone does and how things fit together.
On your first day
A good strategy is to first just observe what is going on around you and learn as much as possible about your new environment so that you can may informed decisions about future action plans. Take notes to remember as much information as possible. Make sure that you are familiar with all the important rules and that you know how to use your office equipment.
Unless you are expected to address and solve a bunch of problems immediately, don’t change existing methods and work procedures immediately. It could only cause you to be met with resistance and dissatisfaction from colleagues and even management.
Pay attention to the following points:
- Interaction with colleagues
Regular interaction with colleagues on different levels in the company is necessary for you to master the unwritten rules, company politics and corporate culture. Many of the critical information about a company does not feature in newsletters or annual reports. It can therefore be invaluable to approach key personnel as soon as possible and ask them some purposeful questions, especially if you have been appointed in a management capacity.
Ask questions such as:
What would you like to remain the same in the company?
What would you like to change in the company?
What is the one thing in the company that amazes you?
What do you expect from someone in my position?
What do you fear from someone in my position / What are you afraid I might do?
What would you like to know about me?
Be prepared to be evaluated in terms of your appearance and the impression you create – take care that you are always neat and groomed and appropriately dressed for the position you hold.
- Document everything
A very good habit to get into, is to document everything as far as possible – describe the problems you encounter, the different options the exist in terms of solutions, as well as the changes eventually made. Use this to build a history of your successes and the values you add to the company.
- Understand your environment
Your first few months will play a key role in establishing your credibility. A thorough understanding of your new company’s culture, people and structure is essential for your success.
There will be official and unofficial work procedures. It may well be that these two are similar, but often you will discover deficiencies. So, make a note of what you consider to be important.
Learn more about the company culture and take time to develop a feeling for the following:
Corporate strategy/mission – What are the company’s set aims?
Corporate culture – What values and attitudes are evident? How do they compare to or contrast with your own?
Company culture – Determine the formal and informal hierarchy. Identify important decision-makers and persons of influence.
Products and services – Regardless of where you work, you will have to have a good understanding of which products and/or services influence the company’s performance.
Operational language – Every company has it own specific language. Learn to know possible keywords and phrases as soon as possible.
- Develop a map of interested parties
There will always be sections of influence that aren’t reflected accurately on any company’s structural map. The first few weeks is the ideal time to observe and create your own map of interested parties.
Take in the culture, customs and habits of everyone around you. Identify the teams and individuals you have to work with and with whom you will have to form alliances to get things done.
- Ensure speedy triumphs
To achieve early successes is probably one of the most important and effective ways to establish credibility and build momentum. This can also set you up for success in the coming months and years.
In short, your first thirty days should be aimed at establishing credibility among leaders and your peers, while in the next sixty days you have to start delivering tangible results.
While in the beginning you will focus mainly on getting to understand the company and its operation, opportunities will already arise where you can prove yourself and in so doing make an impact. Be on the lookout for those.