Whether we’ve landed a promotion at our current company or are starting a new job at a new company, there is always an element of anxiety about how successful we’ll end up being.
I help companies coach their employees during a time called onboarding. It’s a fancy, HR term for the process during which a new employee develops the behaviors and gathers the skills to become an insider. I help new recruits focus on the first three, critical months by setting up an action plan that addresses the “Three Ps” – people, priorities, and personal life. Highly underestimated, onboarding is so important because starting a new job can be an enjoyable and purposeful experience for all involved.
People: Assimilate Into The Company Culture
Just as we’re trying to get a feel for our colleagues, we’re being judged from the get-go. Colleagues are deciding if we’re actually any good at what we do, if we’ll assimilate into the culture, and if we’ll actually make a positive difference. It’s nerve wracking to know that everything we do at the beginning will leave a lasting impression that will affect our work relationships and how well we’ll be able to do our jobs.
Take the time to talk with and listen to everybody: people you’ll be working with directly, indirectly, and even those who don’t even work in the same department. Take the time to investigate the true essence of the company culture that wasn’t communicated during interviews in order to get a general feel of core interpersonal and operational issues affecting the new job.
By understanding the general vibe of the company culture, the key relationships will start to reveal themselves and we can learn to adjust our attitudes and behaviors accordingly in order to foster them from the beginning. As enticing as it is to get involved in gossip with the office drama queen, focus on blending in at first and steadily getting a grasp of who we can count on and who we’ll need to treat with kid gloves. We might even find a mentor.
Priorities: Prioritizing Tasks and Projects
Hopefully, we’ve prioritized key tasks and projects with our boss before accepting the job, but in case they were not totally clear, establishing priorities and objectives can reduce performance anxiety and establish a sense of purpose from day one.
Simply write down a list of key job tasks and priorities. Maybe, with our old job, we were used to doing things a certain way and enjoyed doing some tasks more than others. But this time around, we’re responsible for dealing with tasks we’ve never done before or don’t necessarily like. For example, we’ve never managed direct reports before and now we have to start coaching them and making sure they arrive on time and do their jobs. Establishing this priority with our boss in order know how to prepare ourselves for the task can take away that sense of confusion and intimidation when it comes to taking on new roles.
Also, it’s tempting to try to prove ourselves and our worth right away. After all, we want to show why we were hired in the first place, right? While we definitely want to get at least one success on the books during our first three months, it’s essential to reign in the attitude and the tunnel vision to get projects done at all costs. In other words, check yourself before you wreck yourself! Once again, establish a focus on the projects and the key relationships and prioritize them with your boss and get their guidance on how to approach them intelligently.
Personal Life: Set Up A Short Term Work-Life Balance Plan
Managing personal lives when starting a new job is a major stressor for those with families, pets or loved-ones with special needs. Not everybody gets a new job where they can clock out at a specific, regular time. Some jobs have irregular schedules and can seem to bleed into our personal lives and for those who are salaried or are starting new jobs that require a lot of travel during the onboarding process, work-life balance can be hard at every level during the first three months. So, get a plan of action with your personal support network to help out when it comes to caring for loved-ones and other personal needs.
Schedules can be crazy at first and new routines can feel overwhelming; it’s normal to feel stressed when going through a career transition. Spend the first three months observing the rhythms of work flow and daily expectations while allowing that personal support network to temporarily handle your responsibilities. When a rhythm gets established and tasks become more natural, it’ll become clearer on how to draw the line between work and personal life and easier to make any necessary adjustments to create a smoother long term work-life balance.
Incorporating The 3 Ps
Creating a three month, 3P plan before starting a new job can calm those first day jitters that often provoke us to immediately latch on to bad habits and negative relationships. With a newfound sense of purpose and armed with specific goals, the onboarding process for a new job can become an exciting growing experience to help us reach new professional heights.
Questions To Ask:
1. What are the key working relationships that will affect my new job? Does my manager have any advice for me on how to approach them?
2. How much time will I devote to asking questions and listening to everybody at my job? What questions will they be?
3. What are the new tasks that I’ll be taking on? What does my manager have to say about their priority?
4. Which projects are of high importance? Which ones can help me get a win within the next three months?
5. What is my personal life strategy while I get adjusted to this new job? Who is in my support network and what are the short term goals and priorities that I need to manage?
Leslie Juvin-Acker is the contributing career and leadership expert at Malakye.com, a job board for the action sports and lifestyle industries based in Southern California.