Leverage your first weeks in a company

January 16, 2021
Level Up

Starting a new role is stressful (according to this article it's one of the ten most stressful things you can go through!) Not only are you leaving the safe space of a company you likely know inside-out, you need to get to grips with a new culture, structure and working cadence. This is especially tricking at the moment, where for many of us we're meeting colleagues for the first time on conference calls.

When I was getting ready to start my new role, the main question going around my head was: "how can I use my first few weeks to hit the ground running and gather as much new knowledge as I can?" Find out below the four key things I recommend to having a successful first few weeks.

Photo by Abhishek Desai on Unsplash

Set up discovery sessions - and record the results to then collate

With most companies still working largely remotely, ensuring that your principal's direct reports know who you are and understand your role is paramount. One way to achieve this is by setting up discovery calls. Discovery calls serve a dual purpose:

  1. create the beginning of a working relationship with new colleagues
  2. understand how I can best support my principals

To this end, I recommend splitting them into three broad sections:

  1. introductions
  2. deep dive into their role, understanding their teams and priorities
  3. how I can help my principals

I have found discovery calls invaluable for three main reasons:

  1. it builds rapport far faster than an instant message or email ever will
  2. I've gained invaluable insight into the one thing I can do to have the most impact
  3. the people I've met with now have a better idea of what my role means for them and how they can leverage my skills if they're ever needed

Ask to join key meetings

As part of your onboarding sessions, ask which meetings you should attend each week. To begin with, these meetings will be purely educational as you get to grips with different projects. But in the long term, the knowledge you gain will help you make better decisions, for example when prioritising meetings. You also open yourself up to the possibility of becoming involved in projects, should the opportunity arise.

Create a glossary

Joining a new company, especially one in a new sector or market, will no doubt mean getting to grips with new vocabulary and acronyms. Creating a personal glossary will help you get up to speed faster and recall the terms (a bit like a word tin at primary school).

Ask for feedback

Everyone has their way of working and preferences, so chances are what works perfectly with one principal, won't with another. Throughout your first weeks and months, actively seek out feedback. Not only will this demonstrate proactiveness and emotional intelligence, you avoid a scenario where you don't realise you're missing the mark. By asking for feedback early on, you can course correct before something becomes an issue.

And finally - if you have the option to head into the office, even just a few times a week, and feel safe doing so, seize the opportunity. At the moment, I go in on Sundays and Thursdays; it's when I attend key meetings and I can top and tail my week. Not only will you feel part of something, you'll also get used to the cadence of a new company and have the opportunity to organically meet people.

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