So you’ve gone and got yourself a new job. Great work!
You’re likely filled with a mixture of excitement and eagerness to get started, but sometimes things can be a little bit clunky when you first join. That’s because for the most part, companies aren’t great at onboarding new team members.
Trying to find your place at your new job
Ideally you’d get a few weeks to take in your new surroundings, get to grips with processes and expectations, and learn where you sit in the business. Maybe you’ll even get a welcome goodie bag equipped with a refillable branded water bottle, a pen, and that all-important stress ball.
But the problem is, it’s not an ideal world. You’ve probably been hired because the team is stretched to begin with. Often, that means no one’s on hand to offer the luxury of a full onboarding experience on top of the basics you need just to get going.
You might be lucky and have a few helpful coworkers show you the ropes, but again, they’ll have their own jobs to worry about. It’s on you to figure out how to establish your place in the working order.
So how do you give yourself a positive new start? Take charge of your own onboarding process.
Here are 7 steps to staying on the right track – regardless of what anyone else is doing.
Accept that you’re probably going to have to drive yourself towards getting the start you need, so decide what’s most important to you.
If you know the job inside and out, maybe you want to find out what company quirks could get in the way of you starting strong. Maybe it’s not so deep and you’re just curious about what other people do for their lunches.
In any case, think about what you want from your first few weeks and make a list so you can tick it off as you go.
It’s easy to sit and hope that someone will explain everything for you, but it’s also unlikely. So decide what you need and seek it out for yourself. Plus you’ll look proactive and full of initiative - win win.
Maybe you have this covered, but some companies have convoluted structures or unavailable leaders. It’s important for you to have a specific person to talk to when you have questions or you’re reporting back on how your new job is going.
You may find yourself added to the team without too many introductions. Or you may be part of a distributed team where everyone works remotely, sometimes across different time zones.
In any case, things may not be as black and white as they were in your last company. Maybe another person in the team takes responsibility for certain tasks, or your direct line manager doesn’t do the day-to-day check-ins. If you’re certain who does what – then you’ll find it much easier to ask for help.
Some companies will expect you to settle in quickly and get going with your work. “We want them to hit the ground running” is so often said, it’s become a cliché in recruitment circles.
And while many new employers may actually encourage you to take the first few weeks to get comfortable in your new surroundings and pick things up at ease, having the first week or two clearly laid out will make it much easier for you to get settled in.
Plus, it’ll take away any uneasy feelings of not doing enough or doing too much.
It’s nice to be nice, you know? And everything’s nicer when people are also nice to you. Friendship – it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Anyway, it’s probably not a good idea to ask the first person you like the look of if they’ll be your best friend. But if you make a connection with someone you seem likely to get along with, that person could become an invaluable guide for your first few weeks. Someone you can ask questions to, that you don’t need to go to a manager for.
Like finding out how to login to the employee portal, or what the deal with lunch is – the still important but relatively straightforward things.
Maybe this will blossom into a lasting friendship and maybe it won’t. But in any case, you’ll learn from them, and they can introduce you to other people or unwritten company procedures. Just remember they have a whole job or their own and they’re not going to be paid extra to help you do yours, so be respectful of their time.
If you’re wandering aimlessly through the first few weeks, you’ll probably find it difficult to articulate what you need help with or what you’re doing well.
Without direction, it’s hard to know how things are going, so by pencilling in a catch up with your line manager in the first weeks of joining, you’ll be able to bring up anything you’re unsure of and check you’re going in the right direction. You don’t need to block out an hour a week – a quick 15 minutes on a Friday afternoon will be helpful.
Come prepared with things you want to cover as well as any questions, so your meeting is productive and you can go into the next week feeling confident and in control.
In the likely event that you get something slightly wrong in your first few weeks (you’re only human after all) – ask for help, instead of avoiding it or waiting when it might not come.
It’s way easier to pull out the “I’m new” card when you’re actually new. Worse still, you could end up making the same mistake multiple times before admitting you’re not sure.
You could also ask that friend you made earlier and see what they’d do to fix it.
If you’ve walked into a role with a less-than-brilliant onboarding process, it’s likely that you’ll not be checked up on too much. So you’ll have to acknowledge early milestones yourself. As well as at those meetings you’ve set up between yourself and your manager, of course!
It’s not particularly easy to feel like you’ve been doing well when you start out somewhere new – so anything you do achieve will be a bigger feat than you’re likely giving yourself credit for.
So go on, treat yourself and maybe a loved one to a nice dinner. If you’ve made it through the first few weeks of a new job on your own, you’ve earned it.
The bottom line
Don’t sit and wait for someone else to help you figure out everything about your new job.
You’re probably going to have to do it yourself by following the steps we’ve laid out above.
We spend a lot of time helping businesses perfect their onboarding process, and we’re conscious to only work with companies who try everything to make the people we place welcome and confident that they can succeed.
Looking for a new job where you’re properly supported from the word go? Speak to us today.