We think of onboarding as a company’s responsibility but there’s a fair amount you can take ownership of in order to set yourself up for success.
- Re-read the job description
Familiarise yourself with the expectations of the role. Is there anything here concerning you? What is the priority from their point of view? What can you deliver given the resources you have? Although these can be hard conversations to have, it’s better to “eat the frog” and get everyone aligned. Anticipating issues and communicating concerns (with solutions of course) is the hallmark of a true leader.
- Get clear on your 1 week and 1-month goals
At the end of week one, what do you want to have achieved and why? That cadence may seem fast, but if you set the pace to review your own performance in (almost) real-time, you’re setting yourself up to win. You can quickly change direction if needed, have crucial conversations early, and really get a handle on what needs to be delivered and why.
- Setup calls with key team members
This is probably part of the company’s onboarding process, but the scheduling can happen before you start. So instead of diary management in the first few days, you’re having the crucial calls instead, leaving more time to deliver on your goals.
- Write down what you need to thrive
Ideally, you’ll have communicated this during the interview but it doesn’t matter if not. This is a crucial step, not to be missed. Write down what you need. Do you need regular feedback? Are you the kind of person that responds well to a little more praise than the average (self-awareness here is key!) do you perform better if you can pick your kids up, are you more productive if you do that yoga class? Whatever your needs are, write them down and get comfortable with the fact that this is who you are and what you need to be your best work self.
- Communicate your needs ahead of time
This is the tough bit. We’ve been conditioned to believe that communicating our needs is needy and secondary to the needs of the company. In fact, when delivered well, it’s an example of mature leadership (leadership isn’t just about managing people, it’s a state of being).
Ultimately you’re giving the other person more information to make their job easier. It’s a win win situation. So no apologies, no entitlement, just lay out the facts and find a way to work together that accommodates your needs and theirs.
- Discover which systems and up-skill
This one is crucial as the world becomes more automated. Getting a handle on what systems a company uses ahead of schedule is a strategic advantage as it allows you to go from being a user, to make the software work to your advantage. Also, think deeply about what other tools you can use to enhance your role and make you more efficient.
- Work out the single most important delivery item
Job descriptions can read like a wish list, and often our ambition outweighs our capability. That’s very normal and natural but it means spending time thinking about the single most impactful item to deliver is, will be time well spent, as that’s really the only thing that matters.
- Read the company strategy in detail
Regardless of where you sit in the organisation, having a handle on the vision, mission, quarterly goals, and metrics are crucial. It means you’ll have these in the back of your mind, and enables you to triage effectively as a trap new recruits fall into is running in too many different directions because they’re trying to make a good impression.
- Find out how your manager works
This is similar to points 4 and 5. Get curious with your manager (and reports). How do they like to work? What’s their preferred communication style? What’s worked in the past? When relationships have broken down, why? This curiosity will give you the framework to build a successful relationship, setting everyone up to win. This is a useful reference to start this process https://managerreadme.com/.
- Get your basic kit in order
This should be part of the company onboarding but you can drive part of the process here too. Do you have the right lighting for video calls? Is your wifi up to scratch? How’s your general chair and mouse/screen setup (don’t be afraid to ask for extra kit or budget for the kit as ergonomic setup is crucial). Do you have notepads, a whiteboard, decent headphones, reliable childcare (if applicable)? Get yourself set up for success.
Have we missed any? Drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll review with a view to adding more to the list!