The first day of a new job. You feel heady excitement. A world of opportunity and promise awaits. But you also feel some nervousness. You are eager – not just to deliver on your capabilities, but also to start belonging to the company. Add to this an avalanche of information about strategy, roles, teams, etc. Feels overwhelming and like a roller-coaster ride, right? However, if you just pause for a moment and think about what this day really means, you can sail through it with much grace!
First days are always about learning. You learn about the new team that you are now part of and they learn about you. How to make the most of this day? We have some ideas:
- Get to know the culture. Think of yourself as a journalist and gather information. Ask all you want about what you were hired to do. But it’s equally crucial that you seek information about nuances like the culture of the organization – how often does the team meet; what does the team do to bond; what do people enjoy most about their work; how do teams like communicating. And if you are really curious, you can even ask people how their first day was! Michael Watkins in his book ’The first 90 days’ suggests that failing to understand the culture is a major risk factor for successful transition.
- Understand how to work with your leader/ manager. This is a crucial relationship for your engagement with the organization. Since different people have different styles of working, it helps to understand those of the people you work most frequently with. Does s/he require weekly reports? Do they like to be kept in the loop for all your tasks? What kind of work-life effectiveness do they appreciate? What support do they want? Also take this opportunity to share how you work. What kind of feedback do you like? How would you like to be supported?
- Volunteer to lend a helping hand, if you notice someone asking for it. The task may not be in the purview of your role. But it’s a great opportunity to interact with team members, get a sneak peek into a different role, and gain some brownie points. If you don’t feel the jitters, you can even ask if there is something to help out with. Jim Collins, author of ‘Beyond Entrepreneurship’, calls this the attitude of service, made possible by combining humility and fierce resolve. Humbly serving can be a great way to develop leadership and amass the support of your coworkers.
- Share about yourself. Exchanging information about your journey so far, can create an effective context for your presence in the company. Little snippets about how you feel joining this new role, what your intentions are and what brings you to this company, would go a long way in creating a space for you. Have this information ready in a 30-second elevator pitch, as well as a crisp email. You’ll need both on day one!
Though requiring steady energy and enthusiasm all day, the first day is all about being interested. Especially in every person you meet. It is just like a professional networking event!
What other suggestions do you have to make day one effective?