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How to succeed in a new job

How to succeed in a new job

Amanda Horswill

Scoring that perfect job is only the first, short chapter of the story. The really hard part comes as you walk into your office on that first day.

Getting ahead in your new job depends on quickly determining what it is exactly you have to do, and who you need to work with in order to achieve what you have been hired to do. Number one priority should be to forge advantageous alliances within the organisation-and to avoid the bad ones.

Vantage Human Capital managing director Richard Dunks says new employees shouldn't expect their boss to have an orientation program. They need to have a game plan worked out before they walk through the doors on that first day.

"Often when we go through a human resources review of a company we find that process is missing,'' Mr Dunks says.

"There is a misconception that once the new person has signed the contract, the rest will take care of itself. It is rare for companies to hold the hand of a new employee, particularly through that crucial first six months. I think in the past companies have just gotten away with it. They don't see it as an essential part of the recruitment and retention process, but it is.

"When a new employee starts, there is certainly a bit of apprehension and uncertainty, and they are really looking for confirmation that what the boss was talking about in the job interviews is in fact the role they are walking in to.

"The three elements must be reinforced: That from a technical perspective the role is right; that it is the right cultural fit in terms of the personalities of the people within the working environment; and thirdly that the manager is there to assist the new worker along the way.''

Merlo Coffee marketing co-ordinator Kelly Tam, pictured, says she felt well supported when she first started work for the company last August.

She says a strong induction process that began at the job interview and a more casual, welcoming environment that allowed staff to mingle helped her to fit in- and thrive.

"In my job interview I met the marketing manager I would be reporting to, and also the directors of the company,'' Ms Tam says.

"So when I started I was a bit nervous, but I already felt quite comfortable and everyone seemed so friendly. I guess I observed for a little bit, to find out how everyone interacts in the office . . . and every Friday there is a staff barbecue here so that was a good opportunity to get to know people from other departments.''

Lee Hecht Harrison professional services general manager Aaron McEwan says to tread lightly when you first start your new job.

"The best advice is to keep your eyes and ears open and to act like a sponge in the first few weeks of being there, and try to take in as much information as you can,'' Mr McEwan says.

"Take the time to build relationships, to understand who is who in the zoo, who the key influences are . . . do that before you start trying to kick 1000 goals or go stepping on someone else's turf. The expectations of what you will achieve in that first few months on an operational level is quite low, so you need to use that time to develop those key relationships.''

Mr McEwan says that if you make a mistake by forming the wrong alliances, do not panic. Extricate yourself tactfully.

"I think avoiding making the wrong alliances comes down to preparation. It is OK if you make a mistake if you are also building other alliances,'' he says.

"Don't put all your effort in the one basket. A common mistake of new recruits is that they latch on to the first person who shows them any care or attention. That's an easy mistake to make.

"Have a 90-day plan. Every CEO who starts a role has a 90-day plan but not many call centre operators or journalists or project managers do. You need one.

"Set yourself achievable goals, and negotiate those goals with your manager and other key influences so that you can also check your understanding of what the organisation expects from you at the same time. A lot of people hit the ground running, but they don't achieve the right goals.

"Seek out a mentor if you can find one. It doesn't have to be in a formal sense, but do it early.

"And finally, don't be afraid to ask stupid questions. A lot of people are so afraid of messing up that they don't ask the things they would normally want an answer to. And persist if you don't get an answer.''

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