When anyone gets a new role, there’s an element that there’s an expectation that they’re bringing something new. They’re bringing something to the role that maybe they had that wasn’t previously there and that the company is looking for. Coming in to this new role, think about these couple questions: what are the things that you might have uniquely experienced in the past that you can bring to the team? And where are they doing a great job and you just need to let them do what they are doing?
The first and most important thing you can do when starting at a new job is to listen. Listen more than you speak (you have two ears for a reason!). Think before making any assumptions, and as an outsider there’s probably a hundred assumptions that you made prior to taking that role. Really make sure that you spend the first few weeks or maybe even a month or so, listening to the people, talking across different functions/departments and understanding what it is that is expected of you, and where there can be improvements. Once you understand the why, start to communicate with your team, reflecting the things that they’ve brought to your attention. Ensure them that you’re supporting them with any changes (especially if you’re in a new management role), and giving them the instruction on how they play a role, as well as involving them in decisions.
The next most important thing to do when coming into a company is to not be that person that says, “At the XYZ Company, we did it this way”. You weren’t hired because you are smarter than everyone else. On your first day, you don’t even know where the restroom is or where to sit at lunch. Technically, on your first day, you are the most clueless person in the company. Because no one enjoys that feeling, we sometimes work too hard in a too obvious way to show everyone how smart we are. You were hired to fill a particular need, or because there is something the company decided they needed more of, and they hoped that you had it. Yes, it can be quite unsettling to have no credibility, but on the flip side, if you made mistakes in your last job, or really wish you had done some things differently or not at all, you get one big do-over. Really think about what your highest and best use is in your new company, what you want to be known for, how you can contribute at the highest level, and then take a deep breath. You don’t have to do it all on day one.
The next thing to remember is you will be in a fishbowl for a while. Everyone will hear some new person has been hired in marketing, and they will all want to check them out. What’s their story? Are they a threat to me? Are they going to make my job harder or easier? Be on your best behavior. Do not join any informal cliques, politely excuse yourself when the gossip starts and be pleasant to everyone. In our desire fit in, we can sometimes, well, sit at the wrong lunch table. You have to earn the right to give your thoughts, and you earn it by observing, listening, and understanding so that when you do open your mouth, it is relevant, thoughtful and on target.
And of course, ask for feedback, be open to constructive criticism, play nice, use your listening ears, your inside voice and always share your lunch table with the new guy.