The White House communications director lasted less than two weeks – here are some tips to help new hires stay on for a bit longer.
What to avoid
First, don’t do anything crazy.
“Use your first 10 days to suss out who will influence you, and how much of an influence you can have in this new company,” says Jason Womack, executive coach in San Francisco and author of Your Best Just Got Better.
It’s a lot easier for a big splash to go horribly negative than to go well – Gautam Mukunda
Lots of new hires have a tendency to make a big splash in the job they just landed, but bold announcements are more likely to backfire, says Gautam Mukunda, assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.
This means avoiding a showy demonstration at your first staff meeting. Don’t announce an organisational shakeup on your first day. Stay clear of wide-sweeping criticisms of the company processes. “It’s a lot easier for a big splash to go horribly negative than to go well,” Mukunda says. “There’s a good chance your new co-workers are just not going to appreciate your attempt at a big entrance.
Also on your list of things to shun is setting big goals. There’s a good chance, as a new hire, that you still have no idea what you might be capable of achieving. And yet many people set overly ambitious goals in their first days on the job, says Michael Sharkey, founder and CEO of San Francisco marketing software firm Autopilot.
Over-promising now means there’s a good chance later you’ll be explaining why you and your new team couldn’t come through
For now, Sharkey says, leave those sales numbers or new product projections alone. Over-promising now means there’s a good chance later you’ll be explaining why you and your new team couldn’t come through.
“The appetite for goals in those first few days is hard to quench,” Sharkey says. “But if you set too many goals right off, it’s going to be very hard to achieve them all.”
The right first moves
Instead, Sharkey says the key is to start with something small to establish quick wins. Maybe it’s a new hire you want to bring in to round out your team. Perhaps it’s simply learning the intricacies of the company’s supply network, or getting to know people in lateral positions.
Start with one small task, and you’ll hopefully start the new job with an early win
“It’s all about expectation-setting and understanding what matters,” Sharkey says. “Start with one small task, and you’ll hopefully start the new job with an early win.”
While working toward that goal, begin building the relationships you’re going to need later. Find mentors and upper managers willing to offer advice, and then don’t be afraid to ask them questions, Womack says.