You got the job. Now what? My advice is to set the stage by finding (and acing) one short-term goal.
Your first days and first weeks in a new role can be nerve-wracking as irrational insecurities run rampant in your brain. It’s tough to walk into an ambiguous situation where you are the new kid on the block, you don’t know the unwritten rules, or your new team - yet you feel compelled to impress quickly.
One company invested in a comprehensive two-month training program for its new hires. The program rotated the group through departments and culminated in a small group meet-up with the CEO over sodas and snacks. Rose, one of the new hires, was sipping her soda and speaking with the CEO when someone made a joke and Rose laughed explosively, spewing soda all over the CEO’s face.
Not exactly the stellar start we all dream of…
The good news is, that this start did not prevent Rose from generating strong results and building an impressive career. Why? Because what Rose did after the training program, during her first days in the trenches of her “real” job, were what made all the difference in the world.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak” - Epictetus
While this adage is timeless advice that I am always trying to follow, it is even more critical during your first 90 days in a new role. Listening to your new members, boss, Board and co-workers to gain a deeper understanding of their needs and pain points will help you prioritize what is really most important to the organization and team. In fact, listening is the crucial underpinning that sets the stage for your role as a leader, crafting a roadmap of where you should focus and paving the way for you to create some initial (and crucial) short-term successes.
Changing roles often brings many simultaneous and competing challenges: winding down old commitments, potentially relocating and handling many priorities outside of your new job. However, this is the time to prioritize and focus like a laser beam.
In reality, it is often not your first day or even week that defines you. However, your first 90 days can and frequently does. Using this time as your proving ground and giving 100% to your new organization will ramp up your credibility at all levels – from the Board down to your marketing team.
“Focus on where you want to be, not where you were” - Anonymous
Mary worked at the same association for over 25 years and grew it very successfully. When she landed a new role, she wanted to ensure that her former company was well cared for and that transitions would be smooth. Thus, she considered offering herself part-time to help her former company transition while she started her new role. But was this the right decision for her career?
“Divide the fire and you will the sooner put it out” – Publilius Syrus
She wrestled with this thought, knowing her time would be stretched. Ultimately, Mary decided not to work both jobs and instead, focused that 100% on her new role and the future. After 90 days, she had earned respect and established credibility with a new company by generating a few key wins - and was rewarded with an early bonus. All after just 90 days on the job!
Navigating a new situation usually results in many opportunities. The most successful new hires will sift through these possibilities and look for one short-term homerun where they can showcase their acumen and contribute to business results in the quickest way possible. So, in addition to listening in order to uncover core needs and focusing “solely” on your new role, finding that one, shorter-term area where you can make a difference offers a defining moment that makes your first 90 days an impressive start to a sustainable career.
By knowing your priorities and committing to take action to achieve them, your first 90 days can be used as the perfect stage and proving ground for your new role.
Exemplary employees and leaders start by listening more than talking to gain understanding, focusing on one “master” vs. two, and selecting a specific home run on which to channel their energy. Deconstructing the new job terrors and planning your first few steps will help ensure a strong start and lead to a more solid journey in your new organization.
This piece was co-authored by Michelle Reeb, COO and Co-Founder of the Marketer Network, and was originally published in an issue of the Executive Memo by the Colorado Society of Association Executives. Read the full issue, here.
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