Tips for getting started in a new role
Starting a new job always brings a mix of emotions, the excitement of joining a new team, and the unknown worry. Well, this is how I felt over the past three weeks starting in a new role, and that is why I’ve been a little quiet on the blog posts.
Before I started in the role, I spoke with a couple of friends to seek their advice on starting in a new position and have shared with you those that I found highly beneficial.
- Take time to listen and learn. Even though you bring knowledge and experience of the profession, every organisation is different, and this will have a significant impact on how you approach communications. Colleagues are a great source of insight into why projects may or may not have worked, so use this to help you.
- Understand what’s not been said. Some people will hold back from sharing the insights you need, which is understandable; they don’t know you yet. Non-management colleagues are likely to be more guarded on what they say, potentially out of concern about where their insights might end up, so note what they aren’t telling you in the early weeks. It could be something worth exploring later.
- Find answers, not solutions. It can be tempting to jump into solution mode, fixing things as you spot them. Slow yourself down in those early weeks and ask questions rather than solutions as you might not have all the facts and put into place the wrong solution.
- Speak with all your stakeholders. You’ll probably have meetings arranged initially with those stakeholders your manager has suggested, often their peers, and not your audiences. Get time in the diary before all those meetings start appearing to go out and speak with those colleagues you are trying to reach.
- Keep in mind long term outcomes rather than short term outputs. Don’t put pressure on yourself by feeling as though you need to start pushing out content. Starting new allows you to focus on the outcomes you are trying to achieve and not get caught up in all the tactical day to day work.
- Keep a note of all your thoughts. Throughout those early weeks, you’ll hear great nuggets of information, usually when you least expect them. You might not be able to continue to conversation on them in the moment, so make sure you capture them. I have an Excel sheet where I track all my projects and then a section called ‘On the radar’ so I don’t forget things I want to follow up on later.
I asked the Horizon Guild group members for their tips and Shalini Gupta, Leadership communications manager shares some Do’s and Don’ts.
“Whether it’s your first job or your fifth, those first few days and weeks in a new role can be a little intimidating. Here are a few tips to help you with a smooth transition and set you up for success.”
- Get some ‘insider knowledge’ before you start. Before you join, check out the company’s social media posts and your team members (handy if you know their names!). This will help give you a feel for the culture through the topics they share and post.
- Be a sponge. In the first couple of weeks, absorb everything. Get to know ‘how things are done around here’, aka the culture, your colleagues’ working styles, and the challenges within the business. It’ll help you set off on the right foot sooner and be more effective.
- Ask questions and learn fast. Be proactive in finding out new information yourself. You won’t know everything, and don’t pretend that you do. Ask questions not to simply find ‘answers’ but to see where that may lead – to an insight or a new idea!
- Get to know your audience. As everyone is adapting to new ways of working, it’s good to understand how the business uses ‘hybrid channels’ to engage with and listen to their people. Ask for the latest employee survey results if available, as they’ll provide more insight into the audience sentiments and understand the hot topics.
- Build relationship. Reach out to people in the business – your team members and key stakeholders. Take time listening to opinions and thoughts. Following your chat, connect with them on social media. It shows you are keen on building relationships and, in turn, will help with your personal brand.
- Jump into solution mode. It can all be too easy and tempting to put your skills and experience into practice immediately. However, learning and absorbing should be your priority and not risk getting overwhelmed in the first few days and weeks.
- Compare everything to your previous job: Remind yourself that this is a new role and opportunity, so have an open mind. Remember that while you must stand out as your authentic self, you need to fit into a new culture.
- Be too hard on yourself. Even though you’re bringing in your amazing experience and wealth of skills to the new role, it takes time for it all to fall in place. You’ll have ample opportunities to shine!
- Express your disappointment. Usually, people appreciate new perspectives. However, you must get to know the reason behind each process and decision in the new workplace before expressing your frustration and changing things. This will help with people being more receptive, and you will avoid setting off on the wrong foot
- Criticise your ex-boss/colleagues or company. Building trust with your new colleagues is key in the first couple of days. If people hear you getting critical about your previous manager or company, they might not trust you and, in some cases, may not feel comfortable around you.
Nafisa Shafiq, Communications manager – “When joining virtually it’s important to be seen. Keeping your camera on in your first few team meetings will help colleagues know who you are. Get familiar with systems and processes. Testing things out before meetings so you don’t fumble if you need to screen share and sharing files with the correct permissions. All these will help raise confidence in yourself if you can spend some time learning how to do them. Also, think about your equipment so that whatever you’re using you can be heard and seen clearly.”
Friedel Grant, Internal communications specialist – “Remember to talk to stakeholders across all levels of the organisation and not just senior leaders.”
Michelle Goodall, marketing specialist – “I had to go from years of using Google, Zoom, Guild and Slack to Microsoft and it was extremely difficult and there was an assumption I’d know how to use it, find things, know shortcuts. All of this slowed me down and made me feel ridiculously unproductive for weeks – same for people going from Microsoft to Google. Ask for a buddy who can help in those early weeks.”
Click here to join the Horizon Guild group, where you can start conversations, ask for advice and connect with other internal comms professionals. You can also share your own tips on starting out in a new role to help others.