The first 90 days in a new job are just like discovering a new culture on holiday. So, to blend in with the ‘locals’, you need to get to know the rituals, habits and beliefs of your new colleagues and managers.

Impressions are made from limited information for both sides, and as a new starter, it is vital that you make the first 90 days count. Starting a new job is very much like visiting a new country.  You’re the one who stands out, so everything you do will be noticed. It´s important to keep a positive attitude, and not to comment immediately on everything. That is a mistake that young employees often tend to make.

Here are our six golden tips on how to excel during the first 90 days in your new job.

1. Prepare as if you are stepping into the unknown

Not many people go abroad without any preparation. Usually, we try to find out about the language, the currency, and the culture before we get on the plane. So why would starting a new job be any different?

In the weeks before you start, show initiative and contact your new employer to talk about your new role and how it fits into existing team and business goals. This will put you in a position to perform straight away

2. Get to know company politics

Different cultures have different rituals and different organisational structures, which is why it´s important you get to know how the politics of your new employer. What is important to your colleagues and managers? Who are the unofficial leaders of the group? Working hard won´t get you anywhere if you don´t know how things work.

“I see people focus too much on the technical job skills, “ explains Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter.  Watkins advises to focus on the people who are critical to know, and pick their brains. Once you´ve gained their trust, they will explain the unwritten rules of the company to you.

3. Listen and learn before jumping to conclusions

We all have the tendency to think that our way is the right way. Chances are, however, that in your new company they do things differently.

Absorb as much information as you can about your colleagues, their roles and responsibilities, and how the company operates. This will allow you to form meaningful personal and professional relationships with your new colleagues quickly, which is an important step in settling into any new role.

4. Avoid - at all costs - your colleagues jumping to conclusions about you

We all know how quickly people jump to conclusions about strangers. Once the die is cast, it´s very difficult to change the outcome later on. Did you arrive late in the first week? Then your colleagues might see you as lazy and irresponsible. Did you make some unfortunate management decisions? People might start questioning your judgment.

If you make too many of these small mistakes, you might end up in a negative feedback loop, no matter how talented and skilled you are in reality. 

5. Be an active member of the team

You are starting as an outsider – but your goal for the first three months is to become an insider: someone who knows all the unwritten rules and inside jokes. To become part of your new ´tribe´, it´s important that you´ll show your colleagues that you are a team player. You need to show this during working hours – and by joining team lunches and after-hour activities.

This is an invaluable way of getting to know your colleagues, for them to get to know you and for you to enjoy your work. Workplace satisfaction and performance is not just about completing tasks but about collaboration and working relationships.

6. Secure an ‘early win’

All groups have rituals for new members to prove that they are worthy of being part of the team. In general, company’s don´t have official rituals, however, proving your worth early on goes a huge way in reputation building. This early win does not have to be massive, just a indication of your capabilities. It might be something as simple as delivering ahead of schedule, collaborating on an extra task, or achieving a visible positive result.

Of course, the first 90 days will fly by and you’ll be firmly established in your new role before you know it. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll excel.  

For more advice on everything from being happy at work to growing your personal brand, visit our Career Advice Centre.


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