So you did it - you maneuvered the (quite frankly, terrible and terrifying) world of job hunting and are starting a new position (hopefully in Donor Relations, as I am a little biased)! As I shared in Part One of this blog topic, I have started over many times in my career and have become adept at maneuvering new starts – the overwhelming 30/60/90 day period. Some organizations have fine-tuned onboarding processes with documented steps, goals and communications along the way. Some situations may feel like you were just thrown into the deep end of the pool without even a floatie. No matter which you may be entering, there are some definitive Do’s and Don’ts during this time.
Do establish a strong basis for managing up:
proactively set or initiate regular communications with your new boss
learn their habits/pet peeves/communication style and adapt to it (don’t be afraid to ask others for this insight)
ask questions – I realize this sounds simplistic, but early in a new job we tend to be fearful of asking too many questions or looking ill-prepared, but you have put that discomfort aside and dig further for key context, unspoken strategy at play, and detailed understanding of how we fit into that picture; we can only deliver results when we understand what’s being asked of us and how that fits into the mission of the organization
Do lead your team by example from day one:
set the expectations and guiding principles for your team members and repeatedly communicate them in a variety of ways – 1:1, in groups, via email, in person, etc.
focus less on output during this time and learn the input; not only do you need to learn how/why things are done the way they are, you need to learn about the people executing those tasks - don’t jump the gun and make change just for the sake of making change until you know the full context
position yourself as your team’s advocate to the rest of the organization; share information openly both up and down, represent your department’s needs/challenges/successes to your peers and leadership, become well versed in their day to day professional life and serve as a problem solver and conduit for solutions
Don’t vie for an audience:
as anxious as we may feel to prove ourselves and earn a place at the “grown-ups table”, let your work speak for itself and don’t press to have yourself visible; the best things you can do is become knowledgeable, listen and learn the issues and have a couple early wins
balance your early initiatives between the bright, sexy, flashy initiatives that leadership is craving (i.e., low on metrics) and addressing systematic or policy inefficiencies that will affect a broader audience and potentially having more immediate ROI (such as speeding up tax receipts, getting your arms around acknowledgement letter processes, etc.)·
Don’t rush…this speaks for itself.
I often get in rush to implement change, bite off more than I can chew, and generally want to do everything right now. But success builds over time with knowledge and experience. Take the time during the first few months of a new job to learn, to strategize, to plot the short- and long-term, and to make yourself indispensable to your new organization. It will serve you well on your new journey.
Thank you to Sarah Sims for this great set of blog posts! What are your thoughts about your first three months? What did you do to chart a course to success? Cheers, Lynne