You’ve graduated from school (congratulations!), and now it’s time to start your first real job. Beginning a new position can strike terror into the heart of even the strongest person. As one of my career coaches commented, “It’s like the adult version of your first day of school. In most cases, you don’t know anyone, you’re not sure if the other ‘kids’ will play nice or be mean, you don’t know the layout of the new workplace or even where to find the bathroom, and you’re not sure if you’ll fit in.”
The easiest way to ensure success in a new job is to avoid common pitfalls that stem from a lack of a plan, a poor understanding of the manager’s work style, and lack of knowledge about the company. Prevent these typical new employee mistakes by:
1. Creating a 30/60/90 day game plan. Create a document that is broken into 30-day time increments and captures what you plan to accomplish. Your 30/60/90 game plan should include the key tasks, projects, and initiatives you need to complete, and key people you need to meet, prioritized over your first 90 days on the job. Meet with your manager to ensure he/she shares the same performance expectations and relevant timelines/deadlines.
2. Asking your boss, “How can we best work together?” Establish a positive working relationship by learning your manager’s leadership style and preferred method of working and communicating - then adjust yourself to work with his/her style.
3. Asking for key information about the company. Sit down with your manager and have him/her explain the company and department’s strategic plans along with goals and objectives. Also ask for the department’s organization chart, including the roles and responsibilities of each person, and a breakdown of the most important projects.
It’s important to realize not all companies have a formalized onboarding or training process. If you’re left to fend for yourself as a new employee, you must take the necessary actions to set yourself up for success. For more on succeeding in a new position, including how to set up your 30/60/90 day game plan, earning respect at work and dressing the part, check out my e-book Starting a New Job: What You Need to Know to Succeed.
Lisa Quast is a frequently sought after woman’s career expert and founder of Career Woman, Inc., a consulting agency that helps women reach their professional goals. She’s also the author of the award-winning book Your Career, Your Way and a regular contributor to Forbes.com.