The first month in a new job is arguably one of the most critical, as it can set the tone for your entire tenure with the company. Your actions and reactions can make or break your reputation at your new company and can impact your entire career, says Todd Dean, co-founder and CMO of mobile employment app Wirkn. Here are Dean’s six tips for making your first month at a new role one of your best.
1. Do your homework
Before you head into the office for your first day, you should have done extensive homework. You’re trying to discover as much as you can about your new role, how it fits into the larger business strategy of the company and also learn about the culture.
“You need to show up on your first day with an almost global scope in mind — what’s your role, how you can impact the company on a larger scale, and you also need to learn as much as possible about cultural norms and the company’s mission and values before you even walk in the door,” Dean says.
2. Converse and connect
As you’re introduced to your new colleagues, peers and superiors, ask informal, conversational questions to help you connect with them on a personal level, Dean says. Make a strong first impression on your colleagues by preparing informal, conversational questions that will help you connect with them on a personal level.
“Answer questions about yourself, obviously, and engage in conversation. But try and turn the conversation around to your new coworkers to show interest in learning about them as a person, not just the person in the next cube,” Dean says.
Don’t forget how important understanding the culture is. Speak to people outside your immediate department, set up lunches, figure out how to make those connections and figure out how they do business.
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3. Ask for an initial review
Once you have familiarized yourself with your role and feel more comfortable, ask for feedback — the more, the better. That way you can make sure you are fitting into the expectations and the cultural norms and, if you don’t, you can make the necessary adjustments, Dean says.
“Usually, you’re finding your stride around week 3 of your new employment, but you haven’t gotten far enough to cement bad habits into place. This is a great time to ask for feedback from your boss and your coworkers to see if you’re going in the right direction or if you need to change course,” Dean says.
4. Be ambitious, but don’t rock the boat
You definitely should speak up, contribute to projects and discussions and make recommendations for improvement if you see processes, policies or bottlenecks that seem to be hindering productivity, but do so within reason. As a new hire, you may not understand the context about a policy or process, so tread lightly. Ask questions first, and then assess whether or not you should suggest alternatives, Dean says.
5. Sacrifice time to build dependability
Take some extra time to arrive early, stay a bit later and take shorter lunch breaks during the first month. Showing this willingness to put in extra hours to learn about the role, company norms and projects shows dedication and will help you stand out and build dependability amongst the team.
“This is a great way to see what the regular operating hours are, too, within the context of company culture. If you’re showing up at 8:30 a.m., but most of the team doesn’t get in until 10 a.m., then you’re ‘counter culture,’ and it might be best to adjust. However, at least for the first month, err on the side of being overcommitted,” Dean says.
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Don’t limit introductions to your immediate team and supervisors. Reach out beyond your direct role to understand how other teams and departments collaborate and intersect, Dean says.
“This will make you better equipped to contribute and thrive in the current company culture. Trying to make one new connection a day at work helps build your network and also to understand where you fit in the overall structure of the organization,” Dean says.
7. Work to enhance credibility
Finally, you should go above and beyond when you’re working on specific tasks and team projects so people learn they can rely on you, according to Dean. Of course, don’t go to extremes and take on too much responsibility, or carry the load for team members who aren’t pulling their weight, but make sure your contributions are solid and dependable, he says.
“A company can train an employee to do a skill, but it can’t teach work ethic, perseverance or passion. When you finishing a project, instead of kicking back and surfing social media, be proactive and find other projects, help other team members or find another way to make yourself useful,” Dean says.