Yes, there is certain advice that many of us will have already heard a lot when it comes to starting a new job, and those tips still do apply when you are beginning a role that has never existed before.
Introducing yourself to all of your new colleagues, asking questions, seeking early ‘allies’ within an unfamiliar workplace, and showing your face at all of those crucial first meetings and conversations to establish yourself as an indispensable ‘go-to’ person at the company – these things all count.
However, as you’re starting a completely new role, it makes sense that there are a number of extra details you should bear in mind.
1. Understand the bigger picture. What were the circumstances and requirements that led to the creation of this role? What is the employer’s history and track record? What are your skills, background or other characteristics that led to you being chosen? How will your role fit in with the wider strategic direction of the business in the months and years ahead? By asking these questions and identifying the answers, you stand a better chance of success in the new role.
2. Understand what your boss wants you to achieve in your first three months. Central to this will be setting SMART objectives early on and having regular check-ins. That acronym means the objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. So much of a new role is likely to be undefined or only vaguely defined. This makes it vital to have a framework of well-formulated objectives between you and your manager that won’t send you, your team and the company in the wrong direction. Understanding the expectations of your boss from the outset will therefore help you to better ensure success in the new role.
3. Understand how success in this new role will be measured, and how often. There’s no one-size-fits-all way of measuring an employee’s success even in an established role, so a newly created one can bring even greater challenges. Much will also depend on your exact role. While, for a sales employee, sales figures may seem a strong means of gauging their success, it’s a much more subjective task to assess how much a software developer’s work contributes to a company’s bottom line. By understanding how success will be measured in the new role, for instance if you are set specific targets, you stand an improved chance of helping to deliver it.
4. Work hard on developing strong relationships with all stakeholders. Take some time to understand how this role fits in with the senior stakeholders and their priorities, and which senior members hold the most influence. It’s good to start developing these relationships as soon as possible, so that it’s easier for you to gain buy-in for any new initiatives or projects you may want to roll out in the future. However, it’s just as crucial to dedicate time to your colleagues too.
Sure, some of your new co-workers may be initially resistant to any changes that you introduce, but this is precisely why it is so important to do everything possible to bring them along for the ride. By engaging with stakeholders at all levels, you’ll ensure they’re brought into what you’re doing, while you learn what they do – and you’re far less likely to tread on any toes along the way. It’s crucial to recognise that being in a newly created role doesn’t mean working by yourself. Nor should you merely leverage your colleagues’ resources and skills without making their own jobs easier through active collaboration and teamwork.
5. Don’t try to fix or change everything as soon as you arrive. It’s important that you resist the urge to make an instant impact on day one in the new role. This will enable you to better understand the ecosystem of the company, how different departments collaborate, and what the strategic priorities are.
Taking this ‘watch and learn’ approach will enable you to understand how and where you can deliver the most value most quickly, avoid treading on anybody’s toes, and comfortably complement the work that is already being done. Over the initial few months or first year in your new position, you will have the opportunity to adjust to the distinctive challenges of the job, integrate yourself more fully into the team structure and take greater ownership in shaping the role.
6. Don’t over-promise and under-deliver. It can be tempting to do this when you first enter a company, especially in initial meetings and inductions where you want to prove yourself from the very start. After all, you’ll be understandably eager to demonstrate your value, and you may have already formed opinions or ideas of what needs to be done as a priority. And naturally, because this is a new position, many stakeholders will be excited to have you on board, and keen to see change and progress. However, try not to succumb to the pressure of over-promising and under-delivering – instead, take a measured and realistic approach to the new role.
7. Have the confidence in your skills and abilities to make the right decisions. Keep level-headed and don’t succumb to the pressure of having to prove yourself within five minutes of arriving. Instead, make sure each decision you make is strategic and informed, and will have a positive impact. Remember that even your first steps in your new role should be made with the longer-term objectives for the job – as discussed and agreed with your managers – squarely in mind. By understanding what these longer-term objectives are, you will be able to put in place the strategy to achieve them. Plus, as you are in a completely new role, it could be your strategies that people follow in the future – so it’s essential to have confidence in your skills and abilities, and make the right decisions along the way.
As enthralling as it can be to step into a role that has never before existed at the company in question, it can also be a daunting prospect. A certain level of creativity, responsibility and agility is likely to be required from you that may not apply to the same extent when you are taking on a previously occupied vacancy.
By following the above points as you begin your new role, you can help to shape it into the position that everyone at the organisation – yourself included – wants it to be. As a result, you will be well-placed to make the best possible contribution to your new employer’s success.