5 things to do in the first month of a new job

While ultimately it is the responsibility of a company and employees to welcome onboard a new member of staff, there are also some important steps an individual can take within the first 30 days of a new job, to ensure it’s a smooth and positive process. Of course it’s common to feel nerves and excitement in equal measures, combined with the renewed enthusiasm and aspiration that come with a fresh career start. It’s great to convey the fact that you’re raring to go, but it’s important to temper this with the acknowledgement that you’re a new entrant and have a lot to learn about the organisation and culture, regardless of your level of seniority. This will help to earn the respect of your colleagues over a period of time, and ensure that you find your natural fit within the business.

If you’re beginning a new job, or one is on the horizon, here are five things you can do in the first month to help make it the best start for yourself, and also for the entire business.

1. Observe your new office culture

The first month of a new job is all about getting acclimatised to your new surroundings, and the role that you’ve been hired for. To find your place, it’s important to allow for a period of listening and observing, instead of rushing to make your mark.

Understanding people dynamics is a major factor in why people get hired and fired; you’ve most likely been offered the role because your personality and approach to work were deemed to be a good fit, and it’s important to observe how things operate within your new company, and note the differences to your previous employment. Factors to consider are preferred methods of internal communication, meeting culture, collaboration styles and software, dress code, lunch break codes of practice, how calendars are shared and managed, etc. Consider the areas in which you will need to adapt, and prioritise.  This will help you to gain respect quickly with your team members, who will appreciate your willingness to work with the systems that they have in place.

2. Set-up one-to-one meetings with your managers and project leaders

Instead of waiting to be invited, take the initiative to set-up meetings early-on with your managers and project leaders, to learn what’s expected of you, and also have procedures explained to you properly. This gives you the opportunity to tap into their expertise and business knowledge, find out what’s what, discover their personalities, and begin to build a relationship with them. If you have new skills to acquire within your role, use this as an opportunity to set-up relevant training sessions with them within your first month, or to seek their buy-in in approving external courses for you.

3. Prioritise what you need to learn first

Beginning a new job can be extremely daunting, with myriad tools to learn and information to digest. It can be overwhelming for certain personalities and the trick is to prioritise as quickly as possible. While it’s important to use your own judgement in this, it can also be sensible to ask your new colleagues what you should be prioritising.

In particular, make sure you have all the elements in place which will enable you to do your job properly, such as your IT correctly set-up, along with the logins and passwords you need; access to collaboration tools and shared spaces and calendars, product samples, etc.

Also consider tasks which are time-sensitive and must be actioned within your first 30 days; for example you may be newly responsible for issuing a monthly newsletter, or for overseeing monthly deliverables to a client.

4. Curb your social media usage

We live in a social media age, where the reputation that you make for yourself online is critical. In the run-up to a new job be mindful of what you are posting publicly online, and maintain this mindset within the first month of a new job, as a bare minimum. At all cost, avoid posting anything damaging about your previous employer, no matter how delighted you are to be leaving!

Furthermore, avoid the temptation of immediately adding your new colleagues or managers as ‘friends’ on Facebook or Instagram. This will come across as insincere, and unprofessional. Keep your private life private for the time period that feels sensible, and only befriend colleagues on social media at a natural point in your working relationship. Likewise, it’s advisable to ignore any premature friend requests for your new team mates until you’ve passed your three-month probation period.

5. Ask all the questions

Use the first 30 days to ask as many questions as you like, without worrying too much about how you will be perceived. It’s expected that a new joiner will have questions, and providing you ask them respectfully and with the objective of understanding, no one will mind. Avoid questions which might appear critical or condescending, and hold back passing comment on systems or procedures which you think you could improve on, at this stage.

Some companies assign a work ‘buddy’ during the on-boarding process, and this can be particularly helpful for asking slightly embarrassing or minor questions, which you might not want to trouble your manager with. If a buddy isn’t available, seek out someone who’s been friendly and welcoming to you, and who you feel comfortable sharing these questions with.

After the first month, you’ll no longer seem like the ‘new guy’, and it will be harder to ask questions which you should have asked sooner. So make the best use of that window of opportunity.

And breathe…

And finally, be kind to yourself in the first month of a new job. Ease off the social engagements, cut yourself some slack at the gym and go easy on the housework and running around after the kids. Beginning a new job can often mean that you’re going at full throttle, both physically and mentally, and so it’s important to give yourself the chance to recover and recharge at the end of each day, and over the weekends.

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