Careers: Tips for surviving your first 90 days on the job!
It’s great that you landed the job! Now, you have to show your boss that he made the right decision. Did you know that your first 90 days on the job are critical to success? Most companies consider this a probationary period. During this time, they assess how you are learning, if you are performing well, and how you are fitting in to the workplace. If you are meeting their expectations, you are most likely a keeper. If not, you may be on your way out the door.
What can you do to improve your odds of being a keeper?
Each workplace is different. Size, structure, products, processes, mission, values, services, customers and how the work is performed can be diverse and unique. Many factors, internal and external, impact how you ultimately ‘fit’ into your workplace. Therefore, it’s impossible to provide a formula to ensure success. But here are some tips that might improve your odds.
Listen and observe. Be an astute observer of your workplace culture. See how things are done, how people dress, how people interact. Strive to fit in and be a part of it, not a renegade. Give yourself time to adjust to your new work environment and the people with whom you are now working.
If you find that the fit isn't right for you, don't make waves. Learn what you can, do your best, and when you are ready, find a workplace whose culture is more in line with your own. It is very hard to change an embedded culture.
Behave professionally, at all times. Handle emotions. Stop, think, and act appropriately. Monitor your language. Monitor your actions. Don’t complain to colleagues about your boss, the organization, or the way things are done. Don’t bring your personal life to work. Even if your colleagues don’t behave professionally, you must.
Learn, respect and follow the workplace hierarchy. Identify the chain of command and how it is followed, and do likewise. If it’s protocol to take an issue to your immediate supervisor, don’t go above or around him. Go to him first and let him guide the next steps. If you are unsure of the protocol to be used, ask your supervisor how to proceed.
Limit your use of technology. When on the clock, don’t surf the internet, check Facebook, IM, Tweet, or text. Turn your cell phone off, and put your cell phone, Ipad, Ipod, and any other gear away. Only use them during lunch or break, and in locations where your colleagues will not hear your conversation or your music.
Demonstrate responsible work behaviors, at all times. Arrive a few minutes before you are scheduled to start, return from lunch and break on time, leave when your work day/shift is over, and treat your workplace and equipment with respect.
Be dependable. Show up when and where you are expected to be. Meet or exceed required deadlines. If you are on a team, be sure to fulfill your responsibilities in a timely manner. Remember that a sale, the award of a contract, or someone else’s work may depend on you completing your work.
Ask for feedback. Sometimes you have no way of knowing if you are meeting expectations. It's ok to ask a supervisor how you are doing and for insights as to what can be improved. However, wait at least a week or longer to ask about your performance. Once feedback is given, act on it.
Ask questions. Your boss doesn’t expect you to know everything your first day, first week, or first month on the job. Don't pretend you understand or know how to do something when you don't. A great way to start the conversation is something like "I know this is important and I really want to do it right. Before I jump in, I'd like to clarify”...then ask a well thought out question that will get you the info that you need.
Demonstrate respect for others, always. It is never ok to verbally, physically or emotionally abuse or bully others. Don’t get into shouting matches or fights. If an issue arises that needs to be resolved, talk to your supervisor first and resolve it professionally and in the way dictated by your workplace.
Demonstrate integrity and honesty. Don’t lie, steal, or abuse privileges. Employers highly value your skills and abilities, but they also highly value integrity and honesty. Exhibit your integrity and honesty through your words and actions.
Demonstrate initiative and motivation. If you learn quickly or work quickly and have time to spare after completing an assignment, ask for something else to do. Don’t sit or think that since you’ve completed your work you are done for the day! Let your boss know you’ve completed your work, and offer to take on more or to stretch and learn something outside of your job responsibilities. It shows your willingness to be a team player, to learn, and also shows your ability to take on additional work and responsibilities. You never know what other opportunities will come your way based on your actions.
Have a positive attitude. Employers notice attitude. A positive attitude affects the workplace by promoting employee engagement, productivity, communication, teamwork, and increased morale. A negative attitude has the opposite effect. Attitude is everything. Workers with negative attitudes don’t last very long in the workplace.
Understand expectations, formal and informal. Fresh from your interview, you probably have a good idea regarding your duties, responsibilities and expectations. These are shared formally, by job description, or verbally.
However, sometimes there are responsibilities and expectations that are not formally shared. Those are the informal rules of the workplace. They are learned from observation, feedback, and conversation. Take time to learn them. They are equally as important as those that have been shared with you.
Introduce yourself to co-workers. Inform them of your role and discuss and encourage interaction, as appropriate. Make an effort to build relationships.
Appreciate your colleagues. Thank colleagues for answering questions, directing you to proper channels, showing you the ropes. Publicly and privately acknowledge a colleagues participation in your successful outcomes.
Don’t take leave during your first 90 days. New employees should strive not to ask for time off in the first 90 days unless there is an emergency. If you already had a vacation scheduled and it will take place during that timeframe, it should have been discussed and approved during the interview/offer phase.
Try your best not to call in sick unless you are totally unable to perform or feel that you will expose your colleagues to your illness. Your employer is watching your behavior and it's hard to reset perceptions once formed. So form good ones!
Hopefully you are a perfect fit for your new job. During your first ninety days on the job your employer is evaluating you. You are also evaluating how well the job fits your needs and expectations. If you like the job and think it’s a good fit for you, these tips may just increase the odds of you becoming a keeper!
Andrea Edelman, career consultant and life coach, can be reached at 302-430-8002, email@example.com or www.edelmancareers.com.