Clarifying your responsibilities, listening, blending in are key to succeeding the first 100 days in a new position
Hey, new hires – the honeymoon period at your new job is shorter than you think.
Just look at President Donald J. Trump, who received poor performance reviews in a pair of new polls assessing his presidency so far. He’s approaching his 100th day in office on Saturday with the lowest approval rating (42%) of any president at this point of his term since Harry Truman in 1945, according to an ABC News/Washington Post survey. And nearly two-thirds of Americans gave Trump poor or middling marks for his first three months, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Trump tweeted against the “ridiculous standard” of making a mere three months a benchmark for presidential performance and everything it entails.
No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2017
And he told the Associated Press that, “I think the 100 days … it’s an artificial barrier. It’s not very meaningful. I think I’ve established amazing relationships that will be used the four or eight years, whatever period of time I’m here.”
That might be true with regards to the commander-in-chief, since the 100-day milestone can be pretty fickle. After all, Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush had 63% and 71% 100-day approval ratings, yet neither of them won a second term.
But career experts say that the rest of us should use our first few months at a new gig as a guidepost for whether or not a role is a good fit. Here’s seven tips to keep in mind during the first few months in a new job.
- Review job expectations. The first, most important thing to do is get specific, written guidance on what is expected of you. A trainer might be told to train x-number of employees, for example, and score 90% on all training evaluations. “You need to know if you’re hitting the mark or not,” job coach Cheryl Palmer, owner of Call to Career, told Moneyish. “Otherwise you might think you’re doing really well, but your boss might think you’re doing terrible.” Employees agree. A recent Monster.com poll found most workers (64%) cited understanding what’s expected of them as the most important thing during their first 100 days on a new job
- Identify challenges. Don’t wait until day 90 to realize that you’re not going to reach those goals. Take advantage of this honeymoon period to tell your boss about problems you’ve noticed early on – maybe you need more manpower or funding to complete a project – and suggest possible solutions. “Work on resolving challenges by creating an action plan,” suggested Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “Turning a weakness into a strength can be leveraged during your review, or portrayed as an accomplishment when it’s time to take the next step in your career.”
- Learn the culture – and fit in. Keeping your head down and just doing the job doesn’t work on its own. “Most people don’t get fired because they’re terrible workers,” said Palmer. “It’s just that they’re not a good fit.” So accept those lunch and coffee invitations, or head out to happy hours and brainstorming sessions. “It could be that there’s an unwritten rule you need to socialize outside the job to be perceived as a true team player,” added Palmer. “Or you might be expected to participate in community events that the company sponsors.”
- Leverage relationships. Besides helping you acclimate to corporate culture, making friends and allies also shortens your learning curve. “Someone who is really talkative and friendly is going to give you the inside scoop on the company,” said Palmer, like how to address the boss – or just how to dress. Jot down everyone’s names and titles. And it’s a small world, so who knows how coworkers could help advance your career? “Forming these relationships now could serve as networking opportunities in the future,” said Salemi.
- Don’t assert yourself too soon. Make “look and listen” your mantra at first so that you don’t step on any toes too soon. Observe how other people pitch ideas before you start dominating a meeting, for example. Glassdoor.com career coach Jenn DeWall suggested dedicating the first 30 days in particular to learning. “It’s not the time to drop proverbial bombs, institute a slew of overhauling changes or blindly assert your expertise,” she wrote in a recent blog post.
- Don’t take off. Especially the first month, now is not the time to put in for a ton of vacation days, or to leave work early. There are exceptions to every rule; perhaps you negotiated some leave before you were hired, or an emergency could come up. But remember – you’re still building a reputation at this place, so you need to put in the time.
- Recognize if it’s just not working. These first 100 days aren’t just about you being scrutinized – it’s also your window to see whether this company works for you. “If it’s a situation where you just can’t succeed … or you realize the company is against your values, do you really want to try and fit in?” asked Palmer. “It’s probably better to leave than to get fired and have that on your work record.” Plus you don’t have to list jobs you’ve been at for less than three months on your resume if you don’t want to, saving some awkward explanations at your next interview.
© 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved