Start Your New Job the Right Way

You have landed a new job and all the time and energy you spent running a well-planned, well-organized, and targeted job quest has paid off. You've significantly improved your compensation package by using beneficial counter-negotiation strategies.

The job looks promising but how do you ensure that you'll get off on the right foot and maximize the career opportunity? Here are a few time-tested professional guidelines that'll help you do just that.

Take advantage of the settling-in-period. Don't feel you need to knock 'em dead the first week. Every reputable company expects new employees to take some time to settle in their new job. Depending on the company and your position, you'll have 30 to 60 days before you're considered a fully contributing member of the team. Wisely use this time. Get to know the company and the key people. Producing long-term results is more important than making an immediate impact.

Project a positive attitude. Let's face it; curmudgeons and grouches are funny only on TV but when you have to work with them on a daily basis, they're simply a pain. Be positive, upbeat and smile. A cheerful "good morning" does wonders for everyone. Friendly, outgoing people with a positive disposition make good team members - the attitude is contagious.

Learn the corporate culture. Each company has its own style and way of doing things. Learn the nuances of how tasks get done by watching managers and executives.

Be a class act. Always conduct yourself in an ethical, professional manner. Speak well of others and stay away from office gossip. You must be trustworthy and able to keep confidences if you're to be taken seriously. Leave street language in the street. And, don't forget to say "thank you." Always give subordinates and colleagues credit when they come up with good ideas. It's not only the right thing to do; it's the smart thing.

Choose your business friends with care. Get to know as many people in the company as you can. Avoid forming relationships until you know who's who. Some of your co-workers are viewed favorably by management, others aren't; you don't know who fits into which category. The people you associate with will have a significant impact on how you're perceived. Women in managerial positions must be careful not to be perceived as "one of the girls." As a general rule, be pleasant with everyone and confide in no one.

Blend in with the company culture. Pay attention to how your co-workers dress, blend in, even if you must buy new clothes. It's an investment because it helps you to quickly shed the new guy or gal label.

You were hired to do a job, so do it. One of the most important tasks is to become a valued employee. Learn your job well. Get an understanding of the industry and company. Discover how your job fits into the scheme of things.

Get organized. Keep a calendar so that you know what needs to be done and when. Ensure that your boss agrees with the priorities you want to establish. During the first 60 days, defer to your boss' judgment on what's important. After you've gained your boss' confidence, then you earn the right to make recommendations.

Keep your boss informed. Tell him/her what is happening and the course of action you intend pursuing. Particularly, make sure your boss always hears any bad news from you directly, rather than from the grapevine or rumor-mill. Ask questions when you don't understand. During the first few weeks there are no dumb questions only dumb actions. During the first two months don't criticize methods, people or departments.

Make sure you're on the same wavelength from day one. A good way to do that is to arrange a series of short meetings with boss. On the first day say, "During the first month, I'd like the opportunity to meet with you three times weekly for about 15 minutes. I want to ensure that I'm working on the right things that support your agenda." During these meetings, identify your objectives, state your intentions and ask if those actions support your boss' goals. Your preparation will maximize the productivity of the meeting.

Quietly plan future actions. Inevitably, there'll be things that you'll want to change and improve. Don't take action during the settling in period if it can be avoided. Instead, make notes about what needs to be accomplished. Don't discuss these ideas or leave notes on your desk or computer about future actions because premature disclosure may create problems.

Once you have established the necessary rapport and gained the confidence of your boss, schedule a meeting with him/her to discuss the changes you want to implement. At that meeting present your ideas about the reason or need for the changes you believe should be made and the benefits, including the approximate costs. Maintain your professionalism.

Plan for your first review. Most employees are passive toward evaluations. Instead, take an active attitude and help your boss write the best possible review of your performance.

As you're given assignments or undertake projects use the Three-C-Story method (circumstance, conduct, conclusion) to document achievements. Write an overview of the circumstances that existed when you began the assignment. As you progress, list the conduct you took and the positive conclusion reached.

Here's an example of a 3C story:

- "Inventory management - In 2007, before I arrived, we had an average raw materials inventory of $8 million in value with a 2.5 inventory turn. After I implemented the JIT program, we have decreased the average raw materials inventory by 25 percent, reducing our inventory investment by $2 million annually and increasing our inventory turns to 4.4."

About six weeks before your review, summarize the 3C stories by function. Send this functional summary to your boss with the comment "My review is due on December 1. I thought you might like to see what I consider to be my most significant accomplishments in this position."

Finally, keep your 3C Stories for updating your resume. This will prepare you for other career opportunities that may surface. Remember, the best time to look for a new career position is when you have a good job, not when you're pressured, rushed, or unemployed. This same principle will help you start your new job off the right way by being fully prepared not only during the first 60 days of employment, but also during performance evaluations.