Finding a job takes hard work but the work only gets more challenging once you’ve landed the big job you wanted. Naturally, you’ll be working because of the tasks your job requires you to do but you’ll need to acclimate to the politics, the environment, the culture, the challenges, the opportunities, the people, and all the other variables surrounding your new job. So, besides showing up on time and doing what’s asked of you, what else should you be doing once you land the big job?
1. Learn from Multiple Sources
Some things to learn are obvious such as processes, policies, duties, and other simple and expected aspects of the job. However, if you want to adapt quickly to become a high performer, you’ll need to learn things beyond the basics. Something you just won’t have is historical perspective that only comes from experience. Thus, it is wise to sit down and get to know the experienced, high performers at any organization to gain perspective. You’ll learn about the industry, the company culture, who the players are, who to partner with, and so much more information from those who have had the opportunity to gain the experience you may not have. Beyond learning from others in your department, take the time to learn about how different departments work together and how the organization is connected as a whole by talking to other internal business partners. Taking the time to learn about functions relevant but outside of your own primary functions will provide valuable insight on how things can run more smoothly.
Learn about your industry by reading relevant publications, joining relevant LinkedIn groups, finding relevant blogs, and following other experts on Twitter. Target your niche, find the expert sources, plug-in, and engage. The internet, and social media in particular, provides so much valuable information if tapped into. Treat the “learning” phase of your job like a second job. When everyone goes home after work, they may not be continuing to learn, but they may have that luxury because of their experience. If you want to gain ground, and quickly become great at what you do, you’ll need to learn on your own time, outside of work. Join professional associations, shadow colleagues, attend seminars & relevant events, read books, and participate in webinars. Basically, take advantage of the multiple sources to learn that exist. Your new co-workers will be impressed with how much you know in such little time, how well-informed your opinions are, and how thoughtful your approach to solving problems is because of your expanded knowledge-base. You’ll be an expert in short time and you’ll acclimate more quickly.
2. Analyze and Assess
Analyze everything you are learning to assess your priorities. Some aspects of your new job likely require more focus yet they may be areas with which your experience, knowledge, or strengths are misaligned. This might be an area you focus more attention to when learning so you improve more quickly where it matters most. You may learn that certain team members are important to partner with but they may be difficult to get along with so a strategy may require you to focus on developing rapport. Analyze the information you get from your learning phase and assess your priorities so you focus on the right things at the right time. This is never a linear process, but rather, an iterative process that is continuous and constantly changing.
3. Get a Second Opinion
While you are learning, analyzing the data, and making your own assessments, you may start to formulate a strong idea of what you should be accomplishing in the first few weeks or months but you should get a second opinion. Ask your supervisor what is expected of you in the first 3 months, 6 months, and year. The best way to know what is expected of you is to ask and be sure to get clear answers. What specific and measurable goals should be accomplished, by what time, and what are the key performance indicators to monitor to know you are on track? Ask your supervisor but consider asking other relevant sources who can give you good information such as colleagues in the same role who have a solid understanding of their priorities and objectives. You can’t be successful in a new job unless you know what success looks like and asking the right people will take the guessing out of the equation.
4. Set Goals and Create a Plan
Once you gain a solid understanding of your role, your priorities, the expectations placed upon you, how success is defined, and the key performance indicators to monitor, you have what you need to set goals and make a plan. Take what you know and write down your goals in a prioritized list. Indicate the benchmarks expected of you for each goal as well as your personal benchmarks to exceed expectations. Try sticking to at least three goals and no more than five. Write your plan on what you will do to accomplish each of your goals by the personal milestones you’ve indicated. Pin it up in your office if you need to but writing your goals, your benchmarks, and your plan to achieve them is the best way to keep you focused on making a big splash once you start a new job.
5. Evaluate and Adapt
As you work toward your goals, evaluate your progress and remain cognizant of the variables that impact your objectives. Adapt to any changes in priorities or unexpected change of events which can be typical, especially in certain industries, and in challenging economies. These five steps are also not linear so continuing this cycle will likely keep you informed of how things are changing and may help you anticipate changes and adapt before others. Your first year of a new job is arguably, when you have to work your hardest because you have to learn so much very quickly while being expected to hit the ground running. I guarantee you that most people don’t take their work home with them and they don’t constantly study on their own to become an expert among experts. This is precisely why you will stand out if you take these steps at a new job.
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