When you start a new job, you will probably feel totally overwhelmed during the first few weeks. New environment, processes, responsibilities, too much new information, too many new people, too much to remember. Simply a huge STRESS.
It is certainly important to make the best impression within the first couple of weeks. However, more important is to prove yourself within 6-12 months. And for that, you need to be structured, persistent and learn on the go.
Being successful at your new job is actually a project and you should treat it as a project. It is a project where you match the outside world (objectives defined by your boss/company) with your inner world (your own objectives and interests, reasons why you changed your job: better salary, learn new stuff, new colleagues, work-life balance.) In the ideal case, these two should marry well. Otherwise, you can lose yourself in duties, obligations, external/internal pressure and end up with a burnout or poor performance evaluation.
You might think that all people great at managing projects have an advantage here. They might, but often they do not. Managing our own personal project is much more challenging than managing a project that was assigned to us externally. Feeling a certain level of outside control, the pressure of deadlines and collective responsibility for good results are the drivers that might be lacking in our own individual projects.
Here are some tips how to feel satisfied and get the best performance evaluation one year after you start your new job.
1. Stop assuming and find out the real expectations
When you start a new job, in bigger companies you usually receive a job description and a quite clear set of objectives you need to achieve within a year. But do not stop yourself here, be curious. Do not assume that this is sufficient to succeed. Keep asking your boss, boss of your boss, colleagues, subordinates, HR, customers, suppliers, whoever you interact with – what their expectations are, what they like, what they hate, how you can make their life easier. Take one month to do so and do not worry about anything else. Do not hesitate to ask for feedback on your performance.
2. Know how your success in 1 year looks and feels
After understanding the real expectations, think about your own objectives and draft the image of your success. What needs to happen that you feel happy and successful at work. What needs to happen that your boss will say: “You have impressed me!” This is the part where you should marry the external objectives with your own objectives. List some specific measurable criteria of success – what needs to happen and how you need to feel. Take a quiet half a day to write them down.
Some tips how to deal with it:
– Summarize results and behaviors and sort them into two groups. Group one – you already have such behaviors and results will be easy to achieve. Group two – you do not have such behaviors and you do not know yet how to achieve those results.
– Look for projects or improvements that could impress your boss or colleagues. When coming from a different company or function, you will have a whole suitcase of things that worked well. Use those for your benefit. It can be a little change in process, a different way of managing meetings, just take the time to think of it.
3. Find a mentor inside or outside the company
My big mistake when I started new jobs was that I considered my boss to be my babysitter, my guide, mentor and helping hand. You will be much better off finding an experienced, successful colleague that is willing to share the wisdom with you. Your mentor will give you an insider view and valuable advice when you start tackling your specific professional challenges. Focus on building trust and good rapport with your mentor.
4. Set up your personal plan with deadlines
This is one of the important steps. When you fail to plan, you fail to do.
After a couple of weeks at your new work, you will start to get a feel of what is expected from you, what feels like a challenge, what you should focus on. I estimate it will be around one to three months you will start the job, but it can take longer. I recommend then setting up 9 months plan of 6 to 8 big steps. E.g. you started a sales job, one step would be to gain expertise on what you are actually selling. Then think of actions that would help you to achieve this expertise within few months. Plan actions for 1 month only to start with. Talk to your mentor or colleagues to get ideas. You will probably realize that you will need to develop some soft skills as well and this is a topic on its own.
5. Stick to your plan and review the progress
One of the hardest parts is eventually sticking to the plan. You will have higher chance to succeed if you find a sparring partner with whom you will discuss the progress and eventually unblock hurdles that you will discover on the way. You can also reward yourself for each step that you accomplish.
Make sure you review your plan every week. The best is to block 1 hour the same day to review your progress and plan next steps. Yes, it is hard, but “No Pain, No Gain!”.
Good luck with your new job!