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Successful Onboarding At A New Job

onboarding

So you’ve done your homework, put your best foot forward in the interview, and landed that new job. What next?  Don’t get too comfortable yet, thinking you’ve got a honeymoon period when you’re immune from scrutiny and criticism. In truth, once you’ve landed that new job, it’s time to reinforce and continue building that competent, professional image you projected during the courtship stage.Ultimately, you were chosen because you’re the “best fit” person who could make the greatest contribution to the company’s goals.

Here are some tips for a successful onboarding experience that will reassure your managers they made a great hiring decision when they hired you:

Don’t let any grass grow under your feet.  You might be tempted to use the time between leaving your previous position and starting your new one for some much need R&R.  Not!  This interlude is the perfect time to lay the groundwork for your successful start at your new company. If you haven’t done so already, write that hand-written thank you note to your hiring manager, above and beyond the email you dashed off after your interviews. Also, if appropriate, consider contacting your new teammates to let them know how excited you are to be joining the team.

Learn the lay of the land.   Review the company handbook to learn your new employer’s policies and procedures. Don’t assume you’ll be cut any slack just because you’re new. It’s better to embrace your new workplace culture and understand how things operate ahead of time so you can avoid any  missteps or tentativeness when you formally begin.

Check for a formal dress code. If no formal dress code is detailed in a company handbook, find out more about the standards from your manager to be , or from an interviewer you clicked with during the interview process.  When in doubt, err on the conservative side. Many companies have adopted casual dress options, but you should never make any assumptions. Your physical appearance is going to be the first impression you make.

Establish yourself as part of the team.  As the newcomer, it’s up to you to reach out to your associates. Cultivating relationships creates a more pleasant work situation and helps you grasp the office structure and cultural nuances more quickly. If it helps, mentally plan some small-talk topics to use when introduced to new colleagues. Go out to lunch a couple of times a week with your new team mates, if lunch out is part of the company culture.  If you’ve joined a lunch-at-the-desk kind of firm, then join your team mates as they dash out in search of sustenance. Spending even a little time together away from the office encourages conversation and expedites the bonding process.

Avoid office gossip. Participating in office gossip has potential to derail your reputation before it’s even established. People may try to suck you in to interpersonal problems.  They may even want you to choose sides. Do Not!  Just change the subject or excuse yourself and walk away.

Get some serious face time with your boss.  Arrange for an in-depth meeting with your boss to discuss the company’s mission, values and goals, and to further clarify what he or she sees as your role. This is also the time to learn about his or her personal working style, including the preferred methods of communication. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible. Arming yourself with information takes much of the guesswork out of your transition, and your boss will appreciate your proactive approach.

Build your personal road map. Set goals for each month of your first 90 days on the job. Having a clear-cut path demonstrates your grasp of the company’s goals and how you contribute. Carefully document your progress, particularly noting challenges you faced and how you overcame them. Arrange to meet with your boss at regular intervals — weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly — to review and make necessary speed and heading course corrections.

Take a mindful and methodical approach to executing your new responsibilities.  You may be chomping at the bit to put your stamp on the business, especially since you were likely brought in to make significant contributions. But it’s best not to come on board with guns blazing. Learn everything you can about current operations to ensure that changes you propose are relevant and necessary.

Maintain a stellar online profile that is 100% non-controversial. With the advent of social media, little is  private anymore. Part of building a sterling professional reputation is polishing your online presence. Assume that everything posted on the Internet will be seen by people in your company — the company’s senior management, your direct management, your colleagues. Use platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook appropriately and make sure nothing on any of your social media pages could compromise your professional reputation.

Whether it’s your first or your fifth place of employment, starting a new job is stressful. If you follow these tips you will put your best foot forward during your critical first weeks on the job, and create a solid foundation for future success.

About the Author

Gayle Rigione is Ivy Exec’s Chief Community Development Officer. Gayle spent 15 years in diverse relationship management and senior management roles at MasterCard International, Arthur Andersen Strategic Services, and Bankers Trust Company. She earned her MBA from Columbia.