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What successful on-boarders do when starting a new role

So you’ve landed a new role!

Congratulations on making it past all the hurdles. Now you’re ready for the job you have always dreamed about.

It’s time to meet the new team, shake lots of hands, be shown your new desk. Admire the swish new surroundings. Then it’s time to get down to business.

Now there is only one critical thing that has been left out. From now on, you’re on your own, and there’s clearly no road-map to guide you. What do you do next?

It’s enough to send shivers down the spine, and the heart starts to race as it dawns on you that you have to start to make some progress – whatever that progress is.

Balancing the intellectual tasks and the social side

If it is any consolation, according to Max Landsberg, author of Mastering Coaching: Practical Insights for Developing High Performance, up to half of newly hired executives fail in their new roles, and leave within eighteen months of joining.

He says that there are two journeys whenever someone changes roles. The first is the intellectual journey and the second is the social journey.

The intellectual path is relatively straight-forward, he says, with a new hire achieving an upward trajectory as they clarify their role and responsibilities.

But the social journey is a more challenging one as new friends and allies are made, and as the new employee is trying to navigate the complex political environment. Many stumble within the first 10 months on the second journey that can lead to adverse career consequences.

It’s a sobering thought if a senior executive can’t make the cut. But what about the millions of people who regularly change their place of employment and enter new roles? What is their ongoing success rate?

Author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter, Michael D. Watkins, says that moving into a new role is the biggest challenge you will face.

“While transitions offer a chance to start fresh and make needed changes, they also place you in a position of acute vulnerability,” he said.

The world of multiple roles and career changes means lots of on-boardings

In a world where multiple careers and jobs are considered to be the norm, learning how to be successful in the first 90 days during on-boarding, or the first six months of a typical probation period, is considered to be a key adaptability skill for an effective transition.

Ten key things to successfully navigate into a new role:

  1. Understand how your manager’s success is measured. Your job is to make your manager successful as much as it is to become effective yourself. Make sure your goals and activities are aligned with your manager’s interests always.
  2. Learn the names of key people. Always get into the habit of referring to an organisational chart where possible, and write down the names of people you meet and include their job titles and know what they do and where they belong.
  3. Reach out to other people outside your direct team. You will learn an astonishing amount in the process by striking up conversations with people you would not normally interact with, and uncover collective knowledge that “everyone” knows – it will serve you well in the future.
  4. Offer to become part of a working group. These could be a workplace health and safety committee or a social club where you can meet people from others areas and allow you to form wider connections into the company.
  5. Read and familiarise yourself with the company website. Understand the policies and procedures of where you work as quickly as possible. This will ensure you are across the main areas and help you to ask the right questions in the future. Having some background before you ask questions will show others that you are proactive in finding out things.
  6. Learn the workplace cultural norms. Observe what people do in terms of starting times, lunch breaks, and generally what conversations are occurring. It is important to assimilate into the culture of the organisation and gently make a list of the things you could challenge or recommend to change later on.
  7. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. If you are taking on too much too early, you will set up an unrealistic expectation of what you are able to deliver. It is better to talk with your manager and be upfront about realistic time frames before there are any unpleasant surprises later on.
  8. Treat everyone you meet with respect. It doesn’t matter what level in the company the person is, you must treat everyone you meet in a respectful manner. By treating the cleaner and the CEO in the same respectful way, you demonstrate your ability to be a mature and trustworthy person. You never know who is connected to who, so ensure you watch what and how you say it.
  9. Be yourself. During an on-boarding period, some people will “act” overly nice and friendly, pretending to be someone they are not – wearing a mask. It is important to be authentic and behave with integrity at all times. That means being yourself and trying not to pretend to present yourself as someone you are not.
  10. Don’t assume that what worked well in your last job will necessarily work in your new job. While your past experience has been recognised as having value, understand that you have a new context and culture and not everything you propose will actually fit into the new environment. But always be prepared to put forward a new idea by asking lots of questions and see what will work.

By applying the above tips, you can successfully navigate into your new role so that you can make a smooth transition and start to be as productive as possible.

This is a lifelong career skill, and the more moves you make, the more effective you will be in becoming a successful team member in your new workplace.

This is a guest post by Warren Frehse, registered career development practitioner, transition coach, leadership specialist and author. You can follow Warren here.

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