Congratulations on your new role! It’s always exciting to be starting a new job – but it can be nerve-wracking too. You want to quickly demonstrate to the manager who has hired you and the the team you’re working with (leading) that you are a great fit and are going to perform well.
But when a pandemic is forcing new starts to work from home, you have to demonstrate visibility as well as credibility, as you learn the ropes and people of your new organisation.
Walking into the office in the “old normal”, you’d automatically be introduced to others (or introduce yourself) and they would be delighted to meet you. An easy conversation would follow in which you would learn more about each other.
You’d have been able to sit down with your manager to discuss your settling in, go through initial objectives and organisational charts.
Perhaps you’d have attended an induction course, furthering your visibility and making friends with other new starts, HR or Learning and Development and some senior people.
Sadly these automatic processes have fallen away, so here are a few tips for making good first impressions and connecting in a proactive way, allowing you to ease nicely into your new role.
1. Before you start the job, communicate by email with your manager about your first day and find out the web-conferencing facilities and collaborative tools they use. If you’re familiar with Zoom but not MS Teams or Trello but not Slack, you can be getting familiar with its features now so you’re up to speed by Day 1. (Hopefully, your organisation will also be setting you up with a laptop and work mobile too.)
2. When you have that first induction meeting with your manager, and you are exploring who you will be working with, ask them to help you identify the internal and external key stakeholders who should be getting to know first. Your manager may have set up some video calls with a few of them, but if not, you will need to schedule a number of these “virtual coffees” to learn more about them, how they experience your department and their background and expertise.
3. For years, I have been extolling to clients the virtue of exploring the “psychological contract”, those unspoken expectations between manager and direct report in week 1. This is where you ask your manager what they need from you to achieve their goals and you share what you need to do yours. You discuss how and when you will have one-to-ones, when you should update your manager and how you like to receive feedback. Because we all have different commitments and working days now that we work from home (schooling kids, stopping to have lunch with family or do the daily walk) I’d add talking about when you and your manager are available and not available for calls and emails.
4. Even if your manager isn’t asking you to, send weekly reports to stay in sight and not out of mind. A short email of bullet points with what you have done this week and what you are doing next week every Friday afternoon will suffice. It also builds trust.
5. If you lead a team, you will also want to have clear conversations about communication. For example, about frequency and value of check-ins, one-to-ones, daily team huddles and more formal team meetings. Be aware that everyone has “videocall fatigue” so assess how much is too much (or too little). Requirements for individuals about the support they need to be less stressed and more productive, will vary so show flexibility and empathy in how and when you reach out.
Coronavirus has challenged us all to re-examine the ways we live and work, and in particular the way we look after ourselves and connect with one another. Starting a new job gives you an excuse to identify the old habits you had and to change them for the better.
If you’re interested in learning more how to be successful in your new role, you can read about our Success in New Role coaching programme or discuss your situation by having a chat with one of our team.