The offer letter has been signed and your start date is set. A new job offers opportunities to grow personally and professionally, but it can also come with the anxiety of change.
Whether you’re starting with a new company or moving into a new role within your organization, your first few weeks on the job are critical. This is the time when impressions are made, opportunities are identified and patterns are set. How you approach this sensitive time can have a significant impact on whether you make a smooth or bumpy transition into your new role.
Ready to go get it? Here are a few ways to make the most of those first few weeks as you settle in:
When starting a new job, your slate is blank. Take the time to think about what do you want to achieve in this role. What appealed to you about this position? Set clear intentions for what you want to create for your work life and for your company. Equally important, who do you want to be—and need to be—to make that happen?
It’s important to spend your initial days learning all that you can about your new job, colleagues and culture. But don’t wait to show up at the office before doing your homework. Touch base with your boss when you accept the position – or at least before your first day – and ask for any relevant resources that will help you get up to speed.
It’s only natural to want to make a big contribution right away or prove yourself. It’s also a mistake to assume that you have all the answers before you’ve spent ample time on the job. Using your first few weeks to listen, ask questions and absorb all you can will pay bigger dividends in the long run—and earn the respect of your colleagues.
Day one is not too early to begin building your network and understanding the structure of influence in your organization. Be proactive about getting to know your colleagues. Introduce yourself. Make the effort to join—or invite— others for lunch. Establish a communication schedule with your boss and ask them who you need to know and who you might be working with in the future. You can start to build those relationships now. If you’re managing a staff, schedule informal, individual get-to-know meetings.
Take care of your well-being from the get-go. You may need to put in a little extra time as you learn the ropes and get established in your new role, but do that in a sustainable way. It’s much easier to establish healthy work patterns and boundaries at the start than to go back and renegotiate after you’ve been putting in 60-hour weeks. The bonus is that prioritizing your well-being translates to more creative and productive work.
You’re coming into a new position with the clear eyes of someone who is not yet immersed in the job. That’s a valuable perspective for identifying where you can make an impact right away. Get clear on your boss’s priorities and expectations first, and then use your newness to identify a couple of small wins that reflect those. Put these on your priority list. A few successes right away will build your confidence and the respect of your colleagues.
Put these practices into place and you’ll be building a strong foundation for success in your new role, right from the start.
Sally Anne Carroll is a life / career coach for professionals and entrepreneurs who want to re-tool their work, define success on their own terms and design healthy, balanced lifestyles that match their strengths and priorities. She’s a freedom-focused advocate for helping clients reimagine, redefine and reinvent the status quo to achieve their personal vision of success and fulfillment. Sally splits her time between Portland, Oregon, and Christchurch, New Zealand.