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Start a New Job Well

20 February 2023

Over many years I have had the pleasure of working with many people as they start new roles.  Apart from doing your new job well and creating a trusting relationship between yourself and your team, below are some of the best things people have done to start a new job so they flourish.

  • Set a leave date.  Instead of starting a new job with the thought that you will be in the role forever (or until something new/better comes along) predefine the length of time you want to be in this role.  This date help bring focus and urgency to making the sorts of differences you want to make, and taking the sorts of value you want to take from the role.
  • Proactively meet people.  While you are sure to get to know the people outside of your immediate team over time, proactively speeding this process up will make you more useful and you will feel at home sooner.  Knock on doors as you pass, stop by the desk of people you don't know and say hello, say hi on chat, reach out to any strangers who were in meetings.  Tell people you are new and finding your way, then make the conversation about them by asking what they do.
  • Have a development list.  This is a list of the skills, knowledge, and experiences you plan to develop while you are in this role (one client called it a Bingo Card).  The opportunities you are looking for a more likely to show themselves when you are clear on what they are.
  • Decorate your space.  If you have a permanent space where you work put things up, bring things from home, have mementoes, surround yourself with things that make you smile.  These help you feel at home and create talking points as you interact with your new colleagues.  Even if you don't have a permanent space it is still surprising what you can do to surround yourself with things that reflect who you are.
  • List your questions.  At the end of each day take 5minutes to list all the questions you still have in three categories: about the job; about the organisation; about the relationships.  This list is purely for your eyes only so no question is too dumb (e.g. how do the cakes get paid for at birthday morning teas?).  You will have less and less questions as weeks go by and this will be reassuring.  Additionally getting the questions out of your head reduces your cognitive load.
  • Keep a Done list.  The cognitive load of learning all you need to learn in a new job can make you feel like you are not achieving anything.  Keeping a daily Done list is a counterbalance to this as it reminds you of the progress you are making.  It is also a good source of data for updating an Achievement List, which is something I recommend everyone keep, and update, on a monthly basis.
  • Normalise your anxiety.  It is normal for anxiety to spike in the first few months (even the first 6 months) of starting a new role, but you will forget that this is the case.  Put things into your environment that remind you that you are normal when you feel stress, overwhelm, out of your depth, and that you have made the totally wrong decision (see below).  In fact a common reason people move into a new role is because the comfort zone in their last job was too big;)

 Comfort zone

  • Socialise.  Go out of your way to attend social events that are organised.  People will trust you more, and bring you into the fold when they are able to find out about you at these less formalised events.  These may not be events that you continue to attend in the long run, but attendance in the first few months will help you get useful background information that you are unlikely to hear about in normal day to day operations. 

As always, wishing you a flourishing career.


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