Starting a new job or a new project with a new team can be overwhelming. There is so much we don’t know.
Who are my stakeholders and what baggage do they bring?
Why were the last two system implementations 50% over budget?
How do you reserve a conference room?
Who gives me access to SharePoint?
Where are the bathrooms?
Some organizations, like Microsoft, do a great job onboarding (i.e. orientation) new employees.
It’s safe to assume that no one is going to sit you down and spoon feed you all the strategic decisions, cultural norms and important but unstated rules you’ll need to survive and thrive.
You’re on your own.
Be prepared to be your own onboarder.
- Be patient. It takes time to navigate a new environment. Allow at least 6 – 12 months to figure out how things really work. Consider yourself in learning mode. This does not mean you can’t be productive. Just don’t expect you can jump right in and operate at the same pace as everyone else.
- Ask questions that give you clues and insight that will make your boss/team/customers’ job easier. Understand their pain points and preferences. Adjust your style so it’s about them, not you:
- Why is it this way?
- Who do you suggest I talk to next?
- How do you best like to work?
- What’s the one thing I should watch out for?
- What keeps you up at night?
- Talk less, listen more. Resist the urge to demonstrate how much you know. Most people don’t care what you did before you landed this new role. Your most important job is to build trust. That can only happen if you focus on others, listen and observe. Take people out to lunch. It’s an easy way to build relationships and get people to open up in a more relaxed environment.
- Make nice. Instead of espousing what’s wrong, what needs fixing, how messed up everything is (you haven’t earned the right to do that … yet), look for what’s working, what you like about the organization, its culture, your team. Let people hear the good stuff. They’ll be much more receptive to your feedback in the future if you don’t come off as a negative know-it-all right away. First impressions stick.