Well into week three in my new role, now is a good time to share some tips for a successful onboarding experience into a new organization. All these tips require the new employee to take an active role in the onboarding experience in order to get the most out of it. There are four main areas to focus on:
• taking ownership
• managing time
• demonstrating effective communication, and
• setting realistic goals.
It’s important to learn as much as you can about the organization and your functional area. By doing this research, it will be helpful to understand the company’s strategic plan, what the long- and short-term goals are, and how does your function and role assist in reaching those goals. In the process, it’s beneficial to keep a list of questions throughout your learning, and determine who the right people to ask for the answers are. By doing this, the new hire is taking a proactive approach to onboarding, seeking information rather than waiting to be told. When meeting new colleagues it’s always recommended to focus on building positive relationships.
Very early into the first days of joining a new company, time management is always a challenge. To help with this challenge, assess the key priorities and validate them with management. This will help focus your time on the right things. At the start, there’s a balance of learning about the company and your new role and the pull to want to take action, and immediately show what you can do. The best advice is to be realistic and do not over-promise. Take the right amount of time necessary to learn the landscape before falling into any landmines.
Plan to do a lot of listening. Good communicators have an ability to reflect on what they have heard before taking action. In meetings, show up prepared with your list of questions, and if the opportunity does arise, this is a good time to share your ideas. The people you are meeting with will be much more inclined to listen to your ideas only after they feel you have listened to them, and taken the appropriate time to learn about the organizations. I have seen the result of new hires that come into a new company and share ideas and their criticisms before taking the time to learn. The negative impression this leaves is sometimes difficult to overcome.
Lastly, it is important to set achievable and realistic objectives with your manager to keep you on the right path to success. For example, my new manager has provided me with a simple 30-day goal of meeting as many people as I can, and learning as much as I can along the way. This has been a blessing for me, as there are no other pressure-filled deliverables for me to worry about. We have been discussing some longer term objectives in our meetings that have surfaced as a result of active listening and learning, but have yet to specifically craft them.
The experience of the first few weeks of joining an organization is usually an early indicator of what the employment relationship will be. Being fresh on the scene is an opportunity. Engaging it the right way will go a long way to making your new job as successful as possible.
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