Career Coach, Korn Ferry Advance
This Week in Leadership (July 19 - July 25)
What the Delta variant means for office returns. Solving the labor shortage with returnships. Plus, tips for how to be a great board director.
The announcements on LinkedIn tell the story—one after another of someone “excited” to be taking a new role. And it isn’t surprising: in June alone, the US government reported the addition of more than 850,000 new jobs.
But experts say it’s one thing to get a new job and another to start out right. Today, more firms are still onboarding new hires remotely, making it fairly difficult for workers to wow the boss and understand the new firm easily. Yet setting up good roots and assimilating is particularly important as companies come out of the pandemic and try to get a jump on today’s economic boom. “The foundation you set, for just about any endeavor, is often the most important part of the venture,” says Val Olson, a career coach for Korn Ferry Advance. Here are some key steps to consider:
Do your research.
It may sound obvious but it’s easy to forget. Equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can about the company and your role and responsibilities. Olson suggests meeting with the person who previously held your role and other staff to learn more about your team, either before or during the first week of employment.
She says to read up on the organization “not only from their website but also their annual report and information about them in business journals, other media, and business libraries.” Additionally, going through your job description again and taking a quick online class or refresher course can be helpful in quickly adjusting to your role, says Olson.
Communicate and manage expectations.
Set up clear communication lines and establish expectations with your manager and colleagues. Figure out what your boss expects you to deliver in the first 90 days, 180 days, year, and so on, says Ron Porter, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Human Resources Center of Expertise. “Make sure you’re working against the right things and there’s no ambiguity about what you should be doing,” he says.
Olson suggests taking the initiative to set up one-on-ones with your boss as soon as possible to learn more about management and leadership styles, the stakeholders involved, and immediate priorities and responsibilities. It is also crucial to share information about yourself that you think is essential for your boss to know.
Get to know your colleagues, subordinates, and higher-ups. Schedule times to meet with them online or in person and go in with an open mind, says Porter, and make sure to show your interest in learning from them and build allyship. It is critical to get a “good grip on the organization, build allies, and in light of that maybe review your objectives,” he says.
Volunteering for an assignment or a special project can help you build relationships. For instance, getting involved in a project even if it’s outside your required responsibilities will get your name out and showcase your value to a broader set of people, says Seth Steinberg, a senior client partner for Korn Ferry’s Supply Chain practice. “It’s a great time to help solve a problem or contribute to a project,” he says. “Once you’re too deep into your new job you end up becoming so busy.”
Find a mentor.
If you’re starting your first post-college job, look for a mentor or a series of mentors. Experts say that having mentors is pivotal to your success in the organization, as they will provide you with valuable perspectives on various issues. According to Porter, those with the strongest set of mentors––even informally––usually tend to do better. So “don’t wait for somebody to adopt you as a protégé, go out proactively seeking some level of mentorship,” he says.
Steinberg says research shows that Gen Zers prefer communicating over email. But he suggests getting out of your comfort zone and setting up these interactions face-to-face instead of email or messaging. He urges everyone to put in the effort to directly engage, either in person or over video coffee chats or happy hours.
Don’t overlook the power of listening. Spend a significant amount of time actively listening and observing the culture at your new workplace. “You have two ears and one mouth and therefore should listen twice as much as you speak,” says Steinberg. Listening—and not simply “running” to a familiar playbook because it was applicable in a previous environment—will take you a long way, he says.