How can you get off to a good start? Careers site Glassdoor and career coach Jenn DeWall put together a list of things you should do in your first 30 days of a new job. I’ve also added recommendations based on my experience in a former role, when I led talent management at a marketing consulting firm.
Ask many, many questions
If you ask many questions, not only will you learn more quickly how to do your job, you’ll show your intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm. Managers love to see these traits in everyone at a company, from entry-level employees to executives. Mike George, QVC’s CEO, recently told me that intellectual curiosity is one of the most important criteria he looks for in executive hires. Before QVC, George was chief marketing officer at Dell and admired this quality in founder Michael Dell. “What blew me away was Michael’s absolute curiosity to learn something new every day. It was a wonderful spirit that I've tried to learn from and implement at QVC,” George said.
If you’re worried about interrupting your manager too often with your curiosities, write them down as they pop in your head, and set up periodic meetings to go through the list. And only ask questions that are truly rooted in curiosity, says career coach Jenn DeWall. “Don’t ask to try and show that you have a better solution without knowing the full context and reason behind why things are done the way they are.”
Get clarity on your role
The idea seems simple, but you’d be surprised how often manager and employee expectations aren’t aligned, which can lead to unfortunate surprises when it’s time for performance reviews. Ask your manager plainly what she expects of you, and use a combination of big-picture and lower-level questions. For example, inquire what the team’s goals are for the year and how you can help advance them. Ask what she expects you to get done in a given day or week, and when she wants assignments completed. By doing so, “you are also showing vulnerability, which often times creates a relationship of empathy and partnership versus one of competing,” said DeWall.
Set up one-on-one meetings with colleagues
Getting to know colleagues inside and outside of your team is invaluable. Ask anyone out to coffee whose work you admire, who has risen quickly through the ranks or who works in a different department that you’re curious about. Learn about their day-to-day role and what they like and dislike about the company. Probe for general advice. You’ll get to know the nuances of how things work at the firm much more quickly this way, and you’ll develop important relationships.
Don’t reject company culture
“Be mindful of dress code, times to be in and out of work, and the Internet and music policies,” DeWall said. If you see that no one multitasks during meetings, refrain from doing so yourself. Ask your boss what the norms are and why. But also stay true to your personality and principles. If you realize there are deep-seated parts of the culture that conflict with your values, it may be best to either leave the company, or first establish yourself as a strong contributor before trying to change the culture.