How to: Kick ass in your first month in your new job!

So you just landed your dream job (or a job on your way to your dream job)! How do you manage yourself to make sure the first month is a success. Here are 7 things you can do to do well in your first month in your new job.

Ask High Quality Questions (in batches)

In your first week take in as much as you can – and get more by asking high quality questions.  
Take the time to learn about the existing structures and processes. It also helps to ask questions in batches. Set up structures & meeting times for you to ask your questions. Don’t be a tapper – you know, the person who is constantly tapping people on the shoulder. Learn the cultural norms. If headphones are in does that mean do not disturb? Who is OK with you asking questions? It helps to set up time with your direct manager for the explicit purpose of you asking all your questions in rapid fire. Consider the following structure to get enough support. All these meetings should be less than 20 minutes.

  • Week 1: Check-in close to every day (for 10-20 mins)
  • Week 2: Check-in Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Week 3: Check-in Tuesday and Thursday,
  • Week 4: Check-in 1-2 per week ongoing

2. Make assumptions & take risks
In your first month you will be forgiven for not knowing something. So make assumptions and push forward. Typically, organizations favor action over inaction. Just get it done! Make mistakes.

3. Grit and Ask
When you get stuck with something spend no more than 20 minutes trying to figure it out. This number used to be 30, but I think organizations expect too much in their first month for you to be wasting your time for that long. Take these as challenges that will help you hone your sense of grit.

4. Demonstrate Humble and Cautious Confidence
Just because you are the newbie doesn’t mean you are not valuable, but remember to respect the existing culture and authorities.

5. Be above average
Because you are learning you are going to need to work above average, but be wise; co-workers may not always appreciate the newbie who works late and comes in early. Plan on arriving early once a week and staying late once per week. You should be working harder because you need to spend more time in your day learning – the extra time is just to get you caught up.

6. Ask for feedback on Thursdays
Each Thursday for your first month ask for specific and actionable feedback. This is frequent enough that you should get some quality feedback, but not too frequent as to be annoying. Be prepared to ask good questions that will prompt good responses. Take notes during this conversation.

7. Add to the culture
In weeks 3-4 take some time to consider how you can actually add value to the existing culture. Each time an employee is added or removed the company culture changes slightly, it is a new team. This is especially true of small companies. Consider small ways you can add value and share something about who you are outside of work.