How To Crush The First Six Months In A New Job

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I once worked on the senior management team of a company that hired an individual at a peer level to me, to run our marketing organization. It was really fascinating (and I’d be lying if I didn’t say really funny) to watch this individual because he only lasted a year with us. You could literally see his self-inflicted demise beginning his first week on board.

The day he started, he exuded this “better than thou” attitude. He continually spoke of how much better things were run at the company he’d come from (then why did you leave?). This was all appropriately packaged in a wrapper of rudeness with an expectation of respect. To say the least, he got off to bad start and once the social and cultural tailspin started, there was no way for him to pull out. He crashed and burned.

I’ve had a number of folks ask me for advice on getting off to a good start when you’re starting or have been promoted to a new job.  Whether you’re new to a company or taking on a new role, your first six months in any job are absolutely critical to building your brand.  If you crush it, it’s amazing how much momentum you’ll build and flexibility you’ll be given.

There’s a number of things you can do to stack the odds in your favor. Here’s a few pro tips:

*Get To Know The People You Should Know – Make a running list those people internally who it will be important for you to have a relationship with. Organize the list into 3 groups:

1) Those who will be instrumental in you achieving your objectives or targets

2) Those who will be instrumental in you getting promoted

3) Those in other cross-functional stovepipes who you could or should learn from.

Keep the list handy and go after them with informational coffees or lunches

*Understand The Metrics – Make sure you clearly understand how will your performance be measured, both quantitatively and qualitatively. When you’ve got that down, then make sure you know how your boss is measured and where he’s at year to-date against those goals. You’ll get a good understanding of how you can help make her successful.

*Over-Deliver On The Expectations They Have For You – In writing, get from your boss and his boss what their expectations are for you for your first 6 months. You want to be well defined on what you need to accomplish in that time frame so you can prioritize your efforts. Then step back and devise a plan for how you will over-deliver on those expectations.

*Identify A Quick Win – As the new kid, your job is to learn as much as you can and then quickly provide value back to the company. If you can do this within the first two to three months you’ll be an absolute rock star and will start forming a killer reputation. It doesn’t have to be a monumental achievement. Just one that demonstrates early that you know what’s expected of you and you’ve got a myopic focus on it. So, define where can you pick up quick sizeable sale or make an impact and get after it!

*List And Prioritize The Things To Learn – From how to do expense reports to your customer accounts to the products and solutions you sell, the first few months are like drinking from a fire hose in terms of all there is to learn. The way to slay the beast is to:

  1. Make a list of everything you need to learn.
  2. Prioritize that list by weighing everything against its impact on you achieving the goals given to you.
  3. The same applies to meetings. When you’re new, everyone thinks you need to be at their meetings. When it comes to meetings, only attend those that are politically correct to be at, absolutely required or will assist you in making your goals. Don’t let the “meeting Olympics” cloud your focus on your goals.

*Communications – Determine the communication protocols. You don’t want to be that annoying new employee who’s constantly in your new boss’s face. Ask by what means and how often your boss wants communication and updates from you.

*Figure Out How To Fit In – Understand what it is the company truly values, what behaviors do they recognize and reward and which behaviors do they frown upon, criticize or punish? By knowing these you’re able to steer a path towards matching your DNA with theirs and quickly fit into the culture.

*FeedbackBe proactive on getting feedback. Ask for candid feedback at the 30 and 60-day marks. Make any needed adjustments, plan your next 6 months, repeat.

*Think Like The CEO – Read all you can and understand the company’s strategy. What major things they’re trying to accomplish this year? How can you contribute from where you sit? Operate with a mindset that you run the company and keep the “big picture” at the forefront of your mind.

So here’s the net, net. Your first six months on a new job is an exciting opportunity that you only get once. Leveraged properly you’ll soon be seen as the logical choice to take on more responsibility in the organization. Set the tone early for a lasting career of distinction at your new company and above all, Have Fun!




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