You have been headhunted, or sought for a key position with a new organization. You have accepted the offer and about to start a new career with your next employer. The transition period has never been easy and so are the first few weeks in the new job.
Based on a recent study of candidates placed by CnetG in 2013, 11% have been promoted in their career, 5% had their roles expanded and 88% of them are enjoying their career with the organization up to today. Among the key attributes to this, are their positive mindset in the first few weeks, work performance and the career planning they have had in place.
5 Quick Tips To Get You All Ready
Build relationships in the first week - HR should be your first, your immediate team next, followed with the Board/Management team. Show interest in people and not talk about why you are great and why you are hired. Be ready with an elevator pitch about yourself, your role and a little about your past job -short, simple and humble.

Get your JD and expectations clearly spelled out - meet the folks in HR for a copy of your job description, run through it with your immediate boss, seek clarification and also seek the exact results expected or how would your performance be measured. Prepare a performance plan/business plan and present to your management team. Include also succession planning so that you can move up to a higher position in two years. At the end of three months and six months, request for a performance review to seek feedback from your boss.

Under promise, over deliver - especially in key positions, stakeholders eagerly await your viewpoints or strategies for the organization. Do not make promises when you do not know your team's capabilities yet. Show initiatives to do more. In your first few day, you may be given lesser tasks in order to allow you to pick up pace. If you are done, volunteer to take up new assignments.

Hold your horses - suss out the organization first before springing into action. Different brush, different strokes. You need to understand the undercurrents and apply the right strategies.

Stay humble, appreciative and congenial - your new colleagues would be pleased to know that you are glad to be part of a highly esteemed organization. Share your enthusiasm and sincere interest to learn. At the end of each day or after each meeting, send a thank you email to appreciate those that helped you get through the day or spend lunch time with those who have been of great help. Lastly, abstain from comparing your current and previous workplace.
Groundwork Before Starting Work - 10 days Before Your First Day!

Keep a notebook entailing all discussions you have had with the employer during the interviews, the consultant and findings from your own network. Go through these notes a week before you start work so that you are reminded on what to expect, how to move around, decision makers who would have an influence on your career, people you should meet, etc. Also knowledge of the business, the structure and how they operate. Visit the company's website and annual reports to build better understanding and immerse yourself in their culture and environment. Keep this notebook active, with constant updates even after you have started work.

First 90 Days
Creating the First Impression

Your success in your career depends very much on how you carry yourself. The trick is just to be yourself. You have been hired because of who you are.

Stay humble, listen more, talk less - in your first few weeks apply the 90%/10% rule of 90% listening and 10% asking questions. Absorb the culture and the environment, the internal politics and issues, understand how decisions are made, who are the influential stakeholders, what it takes to win, etc. Nobody expects you to know all the answers or expect you to bring results immediately.

Prepare an Elevator Pitch - your new colleagues would be keen to get to know you and how you describe yourself is very important in creating the right first impression. You could tell them your position in the company, where you came from and what do you do briefly. Abstain going further about your good old days, or your achievements, etc unless you really know them, which is most often after few months of joining.

Stay polite, appreciative and congenial - your new colleagues are akin to a host, and need to be respected, want to feel appreciated and also assured that you have joined a great workplace. The least you should do is to compare the colours of the workstation, the expensive stationeries provided, the unlimited budget for the pantry, or the flexible work environment you used to enjoy. No two places are the same. At the end of each day, send a thank you email to people who helped you get around on that day. Spend lunch time with different people each day or join the various groups on the following weeks.

Get To Know Your HR

Build and nurture relationship with HR. Find out how HR is structured and services they provide, and the responsibilities of the various people in HR. Once you have understood this well, you would be able to capitalize on their expertise for your own team, besides for your own personal benefit. You would be surprised of the training and development programs available to attract and retain people.

Attend Orientation Program and Network

Make sure that you attend each of the training planned for you and make sure you are at the venue before them, and the last one to leave. As part of the orientation program, request for additional meetings/briefings which you think will have a bearing on your performance. Get the contact details of people you meet, the trainer and also other new joiners. In addition, take advantage of every opportunity to network with key people in the organization, whether through lunches, after work drinks, etc.

Understand Job Description and Performance Expectations

A study done by a Borderless Executive Search in 2010 with 700 top executives revealed that more than 50% responded that they were not clear of the results expected from them and only 39% received a clearly written job description. Obtain a JD for your position and not one off the shelf. Some positions are newly created or unique. If this is not available, please request for one to be done up soon. Have a discussion with your immediate boss on the JD, seek clarification and other unwritten tasks. It is important to also know how you will be measured, the expected results and KPIs. Have it documented. Take the initiative to document it if it is not readily available and provide your boss with a copy.

Know your Business and its People

Hold your horses - Don't move too quickly or too slowly. You are hired for your skills and expertise but assess the organization, the different situations, what worked and what had not worked, the various pressure points and interfaces involved and then decide on strategies and specific actions. Different brush, different strokes - the organization's culture and environment have a great influence on the outcome of the actions implemented. What worked for you in your previous organization might not work in your new one.

Begin establishing contacts with key stakeholders, peers and subordinates, in your location and other locations where your business is present or has influence. Select a mentor within your organization as a mentor could help in your performance, widen your network and accelerate your career growth.

Ask for face to face or skype meetings with those who have knowledge of your work area or important aspects of the business well. Understand the business operations, competitor and market landscape, challenges and issues. Assess past strategies or decisions that succeeded and study those that failed. Understand the roles of your team members well, their strengths and also weaknesses.

Observe and absorb as much as possible, applying the 90/10 rule on listening. At this point do not make any conclusions or changes. Have a frank discussion with your manager about any unwritten rules or standards. You can also seek clarification on performance metrics and expectations.

Regular check-ins with your boss is important as your boss would not be able to keep tab on progresses on all fronts. Keep your boss informed on how you are doing, any support you would need and sharing of thoughts based on observations made.

Come up with a Performance Plan

Great leaders maintain a short-term, mid-term and long-term performance plans, covering business growth, results and also personal development. Come up with a summary of departmental strategies, key result areas, key performance indicators and targeted results, assessment of current skills and gaps, and finally a career plan for yourself, including succession planning. Nobody is indispensable and you should grow yourself out of the job to move up to the next level in the organization. Discuss this plan with your boss and get a sign-off. Do a review each month and request for a review meeting with your boss the third and sixth month. Remember, performance appraisals and performance feedbacks hardly happen unless you initiate it. This way, you will eliminate any surprise by your boss that you are not confirmed in your probation after six months.

The above plans have to be laid out carefully and there has to be balance between the importance of each area against timeline. At the end of the day, only a well-informed and connected leader makes sound and sustainable decisions.

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