3 Places People Get Stuck While Onboarding in a New Job

Congrats, you got the new job! But this is just the beginning. Now you have to make sure you are set up for success and kick off your new career on the right foot.

But that actually isn’t as easy or obvious as it may seem. We have all been new hires ourselves and work with a lot of our clients to help them not just land the new job but ramp up successfully once they get there. We all want to make a good first impression and log some early wins. So here are four suggestions of things not to miss based on where we see people get stuck…and how to make sure you don’t fall into the trap.

  • Take the time to learn how people work together. Understand the best communication methods for people (slack, email, a quick call, etc), it’s easy to assume based on your preference or that of your last manager, so make sure to ask so you don’t misstep on something that is easily avoidable! Then ask how decisions are made, who needs to be in the room, how is the best way to get feedback on a project and what is the best way to present your work. We recently worked with someone who came from a very collaborative team. A “WIP” (work in progress) Google Doc would be started and everyone would comment, make suggestions and use the doc almost like a brainstorming session. And their new company, it was expected that collaboration would happen offline and then a clear map to a decision (and the data to support it) would be delivered to the decision makers. The first project took longer than expected because she didn’t understand this way of working.
  • Ask questions for historical context.  We all want to make an impact quickly, so it’s natural to jump right to suggestions, versus asking why things are done the way they are now. Not only will doing more asking and listening create more trust and build stronger relationships with your new team, but it will also help you get to the better decision in the end. We have all had that new hire on a team that recommends something and you want to yell “Don’t you think we already thought of that?!”. Or the person that always references their old company as a way to do it at your company! So don’t be that person! Ask questions about what has been tried, what worked or didn’t work, is this a new problem or something that the team has been working on before. It will help everyone work together to get to the best answer.
  • Carve out time to get to know the broader team and business.  We get it, you are drinking from a firehouse your first few weeks. And naturally you are going to focus on your direct role, immediate team, tasks to check off your list. But that can keep you too heads down and really miss a special time where you have the flexibility to get out there and meet everyone, learn about the broader business (and how your role fits into it), have fun being a part of the culture. Join that happy hour, fill out a March Madness bracket, meet with people from other teams and review old team updates so you can learn all about the organization you have joined. It will help you understand your role more, build relationships for future projects and help you feel more engaged with the company.
  • Make sure the expectations of your manager aligns with the expectations of your stakeholders.  For a peak behind the curtain, when hiring teams come together, they talk about the role and how it will impact the teams, projects, and people that are the key stakeholders. It’s an important step in the recruiting process so that everyone is evaluating candidates with the same lens. But we often miss that when the new hire starts. So as you are doing all your introduction meetings, ask how the person sees this role fitting into the project/team, what success looks like for the role, what the first 90 days will look like from their perspective. And if any of that isn’t lining up with what you are hearing from your manager, bring it up so that you can get alignment. If you aren’t sure how to do to that with your manager, chat with your HR Partner or Recruiter and the can help navigate that conversation. You don’t want misaligned expectations across the team to impact your ability to be successful.

We know that may feel like a lot, but you got this. We have a worksheet we can share to help you navigate your first 90 days to make sure you are set up for success not just in your role but within the organization. 

What steps have you taken…or will you take…to avoid getting stuck while onboarding in a new role?