I have previously written that a career is one of your major financial assets. This week I started my new job as an executive at a venture backed high-tech company, which got me thinking about how an employee's performance during his or her first week on the job sets the tone for the rest of his or her tenure with the company.
I report to the CEO, so you might think that my life should be pretty easy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For me this is a very high-stakes game. Not only do I need to impress my boss, the CEO, I also need to impress my fellow executives and the members of my company's Board of Directors. When you are an executive, your every move is scrutinized from above and from below. Not that I am complaining. I love this game. This is what I signed up for.
If you want to set yourself up for success with your new company during your first week on the job, here are a few pointers that you might want to consider:
1. Ask All the Dumb Questions - don't pretend you know it all. As the new guy you have a short-term license to ask pretty much anything. Use it. Ask anything you need to know about the company, about it's business, about the processes. People will appreciate your curiosity and you will save yourself some embarrassing mistakes down the road.
2. Stop Doing Your Old Job - this is true especially if your new job is a promotion or is substantially different from the job you just left. Wouldn't it be nice to remain in your comfort zone and keep doing what you know? Probably. It would also be career suicide. Embrace your new job with gusto. Bring your expertise from your old position, but remember, you are no longer being paid to do what you previously did. You are expected to do bigger, better & more.
3. If You Don't Feel a Little Like a Fraud You Are Not Learning - this is a different angle on the previous point. Most people are comfortable doing things that they were previously successful at doing. Some are so scared of failure, that they don't even try new things. Others feel that by accepting new levels of responsibility they are, in fact, impostors who do not deserve to be there. Forget all that. Career growth is all about fear. The minute your stop being a little bit scared about your next big assignment, you have stopped growing in your current position. You have learned all that there is to learn, and from this point forward it's all routine. Time to move on. Embrace the fear. Fake it a little. It's a good thing.
4. Jump Right In - don't take it slow your first week. Don't leave early. Don't tip-toe into your new responsibilities. Step in boldly. Take charge of your new assignments. Make your presence known. Let people understand that you mean business and you are there to make things happen.
5. Generate an Output Your First Week - yeah, you're swamped with new employee handbooks, benefits forms, orientation meetings, meeting new colleagues. All that is well and good. Show some results the first week. Complete something. Start something. When you do, make sure that people know about it.
6. Make Your Presence Felt - walk around the office. Introduce yourself to your co-workers. Don't eat alone in your office or your cube. Seek out your corporate tribe members and invite them to lunch. Spend some time getting to know the people and their position in the company. How can you help them? How can they help you? Make some friends.
7. Don't Forget Your Old Friends and Colleagues - just because you started a new job, doesn't mean you should forget about your old colleagues. Maybe one of them forgot to ask you some questions during your transition from your former job? Maybe one of them ran into a problem with an old account or project that you owned? When those calls come, take them. Be kind. Be helpful. Be professional. People will remember this and this will only strengthen your professional network and reputation.
8. Send an E-mail Late at Night - It's not about pretending to work hard, it's about being perceived as the guy that is willing to be there when he is needed, even if the request is a bit unusual or doesn't come during normal business hours. It's about doing more than is expected.
8. Enjoy It - a job is never more exciting, exhilarating or interesting as it is during your first week. Take some time to enjoy the adrenaline. Often, it fades all too quickly.