Starting a new job is certainly a mix of feelings and expectations, yet a pretty large amount of topics to learn and people to meet. Not an easy time indeed, which should however be faced as a new challenge, professionally and personally speaking, with regards to the new environment, new colleagues, new balance to quickly gain and maintain. If that’s happening often (as a consultant, as a job hopper or freelancer, for instance), then it would definitely be worth to optimize that time thanks to experience and lessons leant, getting to a certain personal standard when starting a new job.
By the time, I have actually improved a sort of action plan to apply at each change in my career in terms of companies or projects within the same company, which I can resume in a list of tips hopefully worth to share.
- Write your knowledge base. Don’t rely on your memory in the long term (often not even in the short term), hence create a new .txt, .doc, .one or any other format you would feel conformable with and use it as daily log of the big amount of information you will certainly receive at the beginning which will grow over time and become definitely useful as entry point of any doubt, question or thought’s tipping point. Add tags, keywords to facilitate future queries, searches, organize info per sections, topic, business domains, think about “how would I use this info in the future” or “why would I look for it“. Describe what a department does, who is responsible for what, draw your hierarchy diagrams and in place work flows. It will soon become your working documentation, a glossary of each and every encountered acronyms within the company, a wiki of what you know about your job and related topics. It will be your friend and support and you will appreciate the constant commitment that it certainly requires.
- Tag as much as you can. If you’re using MS Outlook, for instance, use categories since the beginning, personalize them and apply at each meaningful email (categories concerning departments, topics, important attachments): it will be easier to find certain topics and conversation in the future. Try to have the same approach on the company Wiki or the task management platform you will daily use (if you have the facility to add private tags) and try to be consistent with your knowledge base (common tags across different entities). The aim is pretty clear: a bit of daily job to facilitate important investigations in the future.
- Rate your work. Write in an excel sheet file (or any other similar format which you think would suit the purpose) each and every task you accomplished, use identifiers if available (the ticket ID of any task management platform you use, for instance), add title and a short description of the topic, date, tags, and rate it! Over time I defined four rating values: “Motivation Killer“, “Role activity“, “Interesting Stuff“, “Fun“. No explanation should be required concerning these four categories, but you can obviously personalize them, expand or reduce, they concern your feeling at the end of each task, from worst to best sensations. Then, let’s make that excel file calculate few things: add a check for duplicated identifiers (don’t trust your input), add autogenerated and updated statistics to check how you are progressing, the percentage of “Motivation Killer” after one month, 3 months, one year, or how much “Fun” is your job after a while. This is data, not personal emotions. Yes, it was indeed emotions when you rated it, depending on that specific mood of the day, but it is still more reliable than a single mood after months judging your whole status at work and yet the average rate would certainly be less influenced by a wrong rated task because of an occasional bad feeling. This excel file will actually be yet another friend, a peer to peer review continuously updated. And you can use it when it comes to the annual review or in doubt whether to change job or not, it will certainly be a valuable support.
- Make the most of it. Don’t blindly rely on tasks, procedures, welcome packs and coaching sessions: if you just started a new job it’s then your time to ask for almost anything (as long as you should not be aware of depending on your experience and supposed responsibilities though), it’s your time to understand business and internal management, it’s your chance to get a clue about everything. Watch out though: don’t fall in the easy judgement, it’s your time to understand context and environment, it’s all about investigation and gathering of information, you’ll then have time to connect the dots and have your own considerations and eventually share them. Fix a term (1 months, 2 months) after which you should be able to understand workflows, responsibilities and activities: it will be a check point for what you thought you would have known and what you actually got to know which should then result in useful action (ask more training, request meeting with stakeholders or simply confirm your knowledge progress).
That’s it, no matter what type of business or responsibilities you would have, the few tips above should be enough to build your personalized job support, your organized information, links, tags, follow up when starting on a new one. It would definitely help from day one indeed, but you can start applying these tips whenever you feel like. It’s a daily attitude, worth the effort.