The first week in a new job can be one of the most stressful experiences an employee can face. You will be exposed to new people, new processes, new ideas, and a whole new work culture.
Salt’s MENA Country Director, Richard Smith, has put together some standout tips on how to make your first week a huge success (and ensure you make it through your probation period with flying colours).
1. Think over your introductory message
Creating a professional first impression is important when building strong working relationships. Decide in advance what you will share when introducing yourself to colleagues. Avoid a comprehensive life story or plunging into a criticism of previous roles. It’s not necessary to reveal everything about yourself; your background and a little bit about you as a person should be enough to break the ice.
Another positive introductory statement would be to restate the reasons you are excited about joining the new team. Focus on the ‘pull’ factors that attracted you, and at all costs, avoid negativity about prior employers.
2. Clarify early on who you need to meet and what they need from you
Don’t rely on your new boss or HR contact to set up all the meetings and introductions you’ll need to wrap your head around your new job. They don’t necessarily know everything you’ll need to do to prepare for your new role and responsibilities. More importantly, they don’t know – and might not care – what’s best for your career.
3. Make a point to remember any documentation you need to bring
Often in the first weeks of employment, you will need to provide documentation to your new employer. For example, any documentation on visas, references, company photo, passport scans, health insurance forms etc. Make a point to get organised early on with all of the required paperwork.
4. Don’t forget about your personal brand
Remember, from the moment you step foot into the office, you are representing yourself and your personal brand.
Again, be wary not to downplay the importance of first impressions. Your first 90 days on the job are often treated as an extension of the interview. That means you should use every interaction to prove that you’re a respectful, professional, and diligent worker, but that you’re also someone who your colleagues will enjoy spending eight hours a day with.
From a conversation with your manager to your first department meeting to your first company happy hour, every office task is an opportunity to learn, grow, and represent yourself in a positive light.
5. Be careful with early demands – trust and rewards are earned
Some new hires come to work with demands their first week of work, from how they want their schedules handled to how they’ll handle their work, and more. A word of caution: tread lightly here.
Whilst you want to make sure you’re in the best position to succeed, it’s strongly advised to understand the company and all its policies, before making any requests outside of the contract you have signed up to. Also, remember that different employers could have very different ways of approaching similar tasks. Be open-minded in how you tackle new tasks. Once you have earned trust by delivering good work, your new employer will be much more open to granting them.
6. Create good time management skills at work from the start
A new role is a chance to form productive new habits. In most new roles, it doesn’t take long for the volume of work and projects to pile up. To ensure you can tackle the workload effectively find a way to put good time management skills into practice while at work. Some common time management techniques include setting priorities, maintaining lists of items to be addressed daily, and scheduling blocks of time to address certain items.
Also, if you do start to feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask your manager to help you set priorities so you can address the most important tasks first.
Make sure that any personal tasks, that you can foresee, have been scheduled and managed outside of work hours so you can focus fully on your new role.
7. Ask a lot of questions (most of the time)
There is a lot to learn as a new hire, from how to do your job effectively to how the organisation works. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the items you will need to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to gain clarity when you need it. It’s better to get the information to handle things correctly early than having to learn the hard way when you are supposed to have got to grips with the role. Most people only retain 10% of the information they are exposed to initially, hence take lots of notes to help absorb the key points from induction etc.
At the same time, show initiative by doing your own research. Take time to learn about your position and the organization before you begin commenting or making suggestions that might be interpreted as not understanding your position or the organization or could be perceived as argumentative or condescending
8. Communicate regular updates to your supervisor and peers
Clearly communicating regular status updates, especially in the early days will help prompt your new manager to provide early performance feedback. It is also an opportunity to subtly show the value you are adding in a short time period. Once you have fully bedded into your new role you can reduce the updates but initially, this can be a useful way to build trust.
You may wish to establish a regular update schedule such as weekly one-to-one coffees with your manager to help facilitate this.
9. Identify star performers and learn from them
Take the time to ask your peers about what has made them successful in their role so far and what they are most proud of in their time with the company.
Additionally, ask your manager if there is anyone that they would like you to emulate. Gain an understanding who the standout performers are and align your behaviour with theirs wherever possible.
10. Assess the preferences and expectations of your manager
Your immediate supervisor is the most important ally in your new role. They have put their own reputation on the line through their hiring decision. Look for ways that you can understand and support them in their objectives.
Try to vindicate your manager’s decision in the first weeks of starting. If you can form an early positive bond with your manager by adding value and understanding their expectations, you will maximise your career potential.
Starting a new job can be daunting but with this checklist for your first few weeks, you’re off to a great start. Want to continue making a fantastic impression beyond your first month? Check out more of our top tips here.