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  • Writer's pictureSarah Butler

Starting A New Job - Tips For Success From Day One

Starting a new job can be daunting whether you are straight out of college or a mid-career professional. After the initial excitement of landing the position, you may experience stress and anxiety driven by worries about your ability to do the job, whether you will fit in, or the organisation's culture.


All of these feelings are common and natural. With an optimistic attitude and some of the following tips and strategies, you can maximise your chances of making a positive impression and set yourself up for success from day one.


12 Quick Tips

  1. Ask your manager if there is additional reading like reports, research or processes you can do to get up to speed with the organisation as soon as possible - you might even do this prior to your official start.

  2. Ensure you understand your position description and your responsibilities. Clarify expectations with your manager and know what KPIs you are being evaluated on. Don't be distracted by activities or issues that aren't part of your role.

  3. Ask for help - no one expects you to know how to do everything immediately. Asking for help demonstrates a willingness to learn and be guided. Your co-workers would also rather you ask for help than make an easily avoidable mistake.

  4. Don't take it personally if someone within the organisation does not connect well with you. Remember that they don't know you and you don't know the history of the organisation. You may be replacing someone they had a friendship with or they may feel threatened by you. Take it slowly and don't force the relationship.

  5. Take the initiative and introduce yourself to all you come across - no matter what their role or seniority. Say your full name and your position - a short explanation that you are new to your role should help break the ice.

  6. Take notes when receiving training and instruction and don't act like you know it all already. People don't mind going over things again but no one is impressed with having to repeat things when attention wasn't paid in the first place.

  7. Read and understand all relevant organisation policies and procedures, especially things like codes of conduct. Your manager or the HR department will be able to share the most important ones for you to get up to speed with.

  8. Be open to receiving advice and proactively ask for feedback. This shows humility, respect and an understanding that you still have much to learn early on.

  9. Ensure you complete all onboarding/induction activities set for you. They are there to ensure you have the best possible start to your job and in some cases required legally. If you are having difficulty completing some tasks on the list see your manager or HR department as soon as possible.

  10. Learn about how your manager likes to work. How do they prefer to be communicated with (face-to-face, email, instant message etc)? What is their job and how can you help them to be successful? What can you do to make their job easier? For more information, see this article about Managing Upwards.

  11. Check-in with your manager frequently (unless they schedule regular catch-ups). such as after each work assignment is completed, so you can get immediate feedback and make necessary adjustments. Doing this shows them that you are open to feedback, keen to learn and willing to do what it takes to get up to speed as quickly as possible.

  12. Find time and opportunities to get to know your colleagues. Have a morning coffee together or schedule a lunch. While talking about your work will be an obvious topic of conversation, do not let the discussion head into gossip or divulging deeply personal information as this could tarnish you with an unprofessional reputation from the start.

Take time to transition

You may feel pressure to hit the ground running, making some wins straight away. But ease up and understand that no one, least of all your manager, expects you to jump in and perform at 100% straight away.


Acting without properly understanding your job, your role within the organisation's context and full training and induction can lead to mistakes that could have been avoided and even tensions with your new colleagues if you haven't spent time building relationships and trust first.


For professional roles, it is generally accepted that it can take 3-6 months to be working at full effectiveness and productivity as frustrating as that may seem. Try connecting with a mentor to assist with the change you are experiencing and help you to set realistic expectations.


Discover all you can about the organisation

Initially, you probably don't know much more about the place you are working for other than the knowledge you gained while preparing for your interview. Your new co-workers will certainly think you have no understanding of the business and its culture.


Spend time researching and reading information like media releases and annual reports as well as speaking to your manager and colleagues to gain deeper insight. Ask and answer the following questions when conducting your analysis:

  • What are the organisation's mission, vision and values?

  • What are their short-term and long-term goals?

  • What KPIs does the organisation report on?

  • What is the reason for the organisation's existence?

  • Who are the key stakeholders and what are their expectations?

  • What is your team responsible for? How is team success measured? How does your team fit into the wider organisation?

Trying to understand the culture can be trickier but make a start by seeking out the answers to these questions:

  • Is there a culture of collaboration across functions?

  • Is the company innovative and fast-moving, or more cautious and slow?

  • How do people communicate and within what time frames?

  • Can all levels communicate with all levels, or is it more hierarchical?

The more you know about the culture the easier it will be to build relationships and fit in to minimise your feelings of being the 'newbie'.


Don't make changes too early

One of the biggest and easiest ways to put your new colleagues off-side is to jump in 'boots and all' and make major changes and set unrealistic goals. You may well have been employed to do just that and it's natural to want to impress your manager and show the organisation your vision.


But trying to change things too soon can upset people and make them feel threatened - and these may be the people you need to rely on to support your endeavours. Spend time getting to know them and the new culture you are now part of. Start with small changes that demonstrate the positives you bring to build trust and form allies.


In the beginning, listen more than you speak and phrase your thoughts as a question. For example, if you’re in a meeting and you have a great idea, you could say, “I think we should do this.” Instead, phrase your input in the form of a question, like, “I’m curious,

have we tried to do this?”


Learn who's who and forge relationships

This is the most important part of starting a new job. Learning who everyone is, what their role is and how they connect to your role is critical to your ongoing success.


Start with your own team first. You may learn that due to office politics, some people may have more power or influence than formally given by their role. Then move on to other key figures in the organisation - the decision-makers and leaders on whom you should make a good impression. Start learning who does what well. This information will help you in the future when you're assigning tasks and projects or by knowing who to go to for assistance or advice.


Understand who depends on you and why as well as the workflows that occur to get things done and vice versa. How do people use your output? Understand the timing of workflows so you can meet timelines and provide the most value with your work.


To build new relationships quickly be a curious and active listener. Understand others' roles, how you will need to work with them and how you can provide value to them. Again, listen more than you talk and be willing to learn about how your team or organisation does things and adapt. Respect the history of the organisation and the hard work of the people who work there. Don't constantly compare your past jobs to your present one. No one is interested in hearing "At my old job, we used to…" unless it is something that can be used for competitive advantage.


Wrapping up

Starting a new job is always a combination of nervousness and excitement along with feelings of self-doubt that you will succeed in your role. With a positive attitude and these tips, the transition into your new role can be smoother and less stressful. Above all show respect for the organisation and your new colleagues and demonstrate a willingness to do all that is required to hit the ground running and contribute to your team as quickly as possible.


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