When you start a new job you naturally want to make a great impression with your manager, colleagues and customers.  To overcome those usual initial new job nerves, there are some practical steps you can take:

Start with a Clean Slate

If you are working out your notice from an existing job, slowly start to re-focus towards your new role, but remember to leave on good terms. Think about what work you need to hand over, any equipment that you need to return, and start saying your goodbyes to the people that you will miss. Above all leave with a good impression – even if you feel badly treated keep the moral high ground and leave on good terms if you can.  As well as leaving a positive impression you never know when you might come across your ex-colleagues again and in addition to those you want to keep in touch with you want everyone to be saying good things about you in the future.

Before your new Start Date

Keep researching your new employer, as although you will now know more about your new company through the interview process, there is still much to learn.  Continue to speak to people that you might know who work there and make use of the internet to search for information, including researching the industry sector you are joining.

There is no reason to wait until your first day to meet your new manager.  If you have time before your start date, make contact to ask if you could come in before starting to meet the team and get some background as to what you will be expected to focus on in your first few months.  Have a checklist of questions to ask, including some of the basic fundamentals that will help you ease in to your new role,   such as:

  • Confirm the required dress code
  • What are the breaks/lunch arrangements
  • Is parking available
  • Confirm your first day arrival time and who to report to, and any induction requirements
  • Ask to see where you will be sitting
  • Will you have any IT equipment (phone, pc etc. – it is surprising how many managers forget to order these items so this may act as a prompt!)
  • What documents might you need to bring with you
  • Would it be possible to meet your customers/people you will support
  • Is there any preparation reading/documents to get you up to speed
  • Is there value in attending any meetings before your start date
  • Can you have organisation chart to show who’s who

These are just some ideas of the type of questions and information you can seek as you head towards your new role, getting some of these answers will help ease your transition.

First Impressions

First impressions are important and during the first few weeks you will need to consider the image and impact you want to have.

Focus your efforts on:

  • Building work relationships – maximise opportunities to get to know people who you will work with regularly
  • Building your network – within and outside the organisation with suppliers, customers, professional/trade bodies etc.
  • Find out about formal and informal communication channels and use them to learn about the organisation and the people in it
  • If possible, take time to liaise and engage with people outside your direct working environment, be proactive in introducing yourself to people in departments you may not work closely with, go to social events, training or team days
  • Take opportunities in meetings to talk to different people

Most organisations will run an induction programme for new starters, and this is another opportunity to have a positive impact. Check out what is actually planned for you and who is organising it.  Talk to them about what’s included and discuss with them anything you feel ought to be covered.

Now you’re in your new role – Clarify Expectations

The first step is to have a discussion with your manager and establish his or her views, expectations, and objectives. As time passes you will be getting to grips with the role, organisation and work relationships.

Establishing priorities early and finding out what is expected of you will be vital when it comes to identifying your specific objectives and success criteria. If you have responsibility for staff then setting expectations with them and making your mark will also be a critical part of this initial period.

The on-going discussions with your manager should provide all of the necessary information to clarify priorities and objectives. However, you may want to consider the following points to serve as a reminder of the things you need to explore:

  • What is your decision-making authority; when can you act alone and when do you need to refer decisions?
  • What financial or budgetary responsibility do you have?
  • Who are your key stakeholders?
  • What are other senior managers/peers expecting of you?
  • Is there a performance Management System and if so how does it work?
  • If there is no formal system how will objectives be set and how will they be reviewed?

and if you have a team:

  • Check out roles and responsibilities with your manager and with the individuals in the team.  Try to find out how well they are performing – get their views and try to get a feel for the perception of others
  • Who links into your team? Who depends on them and who are they dependent on for information, materials etc.
  • How work is currently allocated and who decides what they do?

Now you can start to Plan and set Objectives

Once you have confirmed your specific responsibilities and identified the key people, you can begin to prioritise and develop an action plan.

Planning in this way, even if it’s just for your own individual use, will also help you to consider how you will measure your success. Show results against expected outcomes and demonstrate behaviours that match the vision and values of your new employer.

You may have established clear objectives and goals with your manager for the first few months in your role, but you can also set and track your own personal goals and targets that you can work towards, say for the first 3 months.  Doing this will help you to monitor your progress and show you how well you are getting on – it may also serve you well for discussions in any initial probationary period.

It will also show strong self-management and understanding of your role that will be evident to your new manager and colleagues, all adding up to making good first impressions.

Finding your Way

In some ways, you will be the centre of attention during the first few weeks, so try to establish a level of value and credibility, the foundation of which can be gained by having an understanding of the way things work in the new organisation. Whether you have made an internal move within your existing organisation or a move to a new organisation, getting to know the culture, goals, infrastructure and processes are going to be vital to your future success.

Learn by asking questions and observing how things are done and try to get a feel of:

  • The organisation’s vision?
  • The corporate culture?
  • And how do these compare with your own approach, be adaptable if necessary

Establish the hierarchy, both formal and informal

  • Who’s who and who does what – where is the real power and authority in the organisation?
  • Communication Systems – How are things communicated both formally and informally?
  • Jargon – Every organisation has its own “language” so start getting to know the key phrases and buzz words

You’re Starting a Great new Career Chapter

During the first few weeks people will not expect you to know much about the way things are done and therefore this will be your best opportunity to ask open and direct questions without feeling uncomfortable. Your peers and managers are also likely to be more receptive to the idea of you attending their meetings or observing work processes in these early stages so take this opportunity while it exists.

However, this time can also be quite daunting as you find your way through new work processes and methods that are different form your previous workplace. But don’t be too hard on yourself, although it will take a little time to build up your place and position in your new role, remember that it is your skills and knowledge that earned you the position and these are of great value to your new employer.