Last week I congratulated a client on a new executive role, and as I wished him well, I ended my note with “don’t forget the assimilation for your new team and your 90-day plan”. He quickly replied with “Thanks and yep got the 90-day plan, but can we talk about the people side of the plan to be sure I’ve got that nailed down?” After our discussion, his plan was clearer in his mind and he felt even better about his first day (according to him 😊).
Starting a new job is exciting with all its newness and hope for success. It can also cause stress in the early days. How do I make the most of this new opportunity? How do I make an impact right away? How do I adapt to a new culture etc.?
If we are lucky, we are going to a company that has a good induction/assimilation program. Our first few weeks are planned out for us, and we have meetings with all the right people set up (or do we? I’ll come back to this later). If we’re not so lucky, there is no induction/assimilation program. Our new leader and HR are not helping to drive the induction/assimilation process, and we arrive having to fend for ourselves. While this isn't necessarily the end of the world, many people don’t realize they should be thinking about their 30/60/90-day plan. Instead, they just show up and “figure it out”. High performers plan, even if there is no plan for them. High performers act and think about critical key questions. If you want to get off to a great start and increase your speed of making your desired impact, consider planning. The format doesn’t matter. I like excel, because you can check of items as you complete them. There are many ways to create your own plan but here are a few impactful ideas:
1. Understand what my new leader expects. Seems obvious right? It should be, but this is not always the case. I’m amazed at how many people tell me they had a short hello with their new leader, and then did not have a proper sit down with them for a month or so after joining. Be sure to carve out time on Day 1 with your new leader (even via phone if she/he is remote from you). Talk about what they want from you, create some 60-day goals as well as the goals they expect for the year. Book another appointment with them in 2 months with the specific purpose of getting feedback and checking in on those short-term goals. This is a great way to ensure quickly if you are on or off track, and to look for organizational fit, as well as, hard goal achievement.
2. Get out of your office/cube. Meet the new team, and I mean right away. This applies regardless if you are a new leader or an individual contributor on a team. Keep in mind if you are a leader of teams, this applies to you as a member of someone else’s team, and to the team you are leading. What do most people do when they join? They learn about the products and services, the numbers, and the metrics. They tell everyone about what they have achieved in the past and what they are going to do (aka Change) now that they have joined, and they talk about what their expectations are. While this may work and can be important, there are some limitations. When meeting new people, consider this: before you talk about "you" try talking about them first. What can you do for them? What expectations do they have? Are there any problems they would like your help with? Don't be surprised if some will sit in stunned silence if no one has ever used this approach. Be patient, ask them to think about it and come back to you—verbally—not over email! You will be amazed at how face to face interaction helps build rapport more quickly and how much you will learn!
3. Who are the colleagues who will make or break my success? Often, we are so busy in the first 60-90 days learning all about our own role we forget to look outside our group, team, function. I also find that most induction/assimilation plans that are put together do not include cross functional introductions. Many times, these types of introductions happen by chance during other meetings, or worse over conflict. Go find these folks. Don’t wait. Say hello over coffee. The most successful people do not work in silos.
4. What are all the systems I will need to use. Most companies do a great job preparing you with Safety protocol, HR basics and email, but what about the functional systems you will have to use? Try to identify these by week 2 at the latest. Acting early prevents you from finding out that with 3 days left in the quarter you need to complete the “X report” in a system you never heard of, have not had any training on, and even worse you don’t have access to!
Implementing these ideas will speed up your integration into your new company!
Now, back to those people who are lucky enough to work for a company who has a strong induction/assimilation program: Even the best programs might be missing a few things, review that plan closely and be sure to add anything missing to make your integration even better!