How can I make a positive impact in a new role?

Written by
Changeboard Team

23 Aug 2016

23 Aug 2016 • by Changeboard Team

First 100 days of your new role are crucial

Starting a new job is a challenge for most people, especially when you are going in at a senior level. Within the first few months you will have to adjust to your new company and role whilst at the same time influencing your team and ensuring that you create a positive working environment. After a week or two in your new role, you should begin to feel more at ease in your new environment. You’ll have met all your colleagues and built a tighter rapport with your manager, team and departmental colleagues. By now you will also know who to contact for most things and your general confidence will have started to increase, which will aid you in your work and making an impact.

The first 100 days are crucial as this is when you can influence your peers' opinions about you and your potential, establish who the opinion formers/key allies are in your organisation and make a positive impression whilst representing your company both internally and externally. Although you'll have displayed numerous qualities during your interview, your first few months in a new position will have an even stronger bearing on how you will be perceived by your new employer.

Ensure to 'get stuck in' straight away

Make sure you meet as many key people as possible and absorb as much information as you can. Establishing everyone’s job roles is paramount as this will enable you to ask the right questions to the relevant people and will give you a professional edge. From the start you will need to demonstrate a capacity to adapt to the company’s culture and your communication skills will prove invaluable when trying to form new relationships. Once you know who everyone is and what their responsibilities are, it’s time to get stuck into your job and show how much of an asset you are to your new employer.

Within the first few months you should think about how and where you can generate quick wins and how to win your team and colleagues over. Start by reviewing current processes, systems and strategies for the business. Make sure you are also organising and prioritising your workload - what is business critical and what can wait? Managing expectations will be key, it is better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way round and do not hesitate to consult your line manager if unsure about anything. 

Overall, make sure you show enthusiasm and demonstrate knowledge about your new employer whilst listening, learning and asking lots of questions. Don't be too quiet or reserved or, conversely, too assertive, it's also not good to openly compare this job to your last one or worry too much about making mistakes.

Think ahead and develop your career

Always keep in mind that you're still under probation; this period could last 12 weeks or even six months, and this is when you will be assessed against your key performance indicators (KPIs). This is a two-way process, and it’s always a good idea to make a note of your achievements, highlight any problems and don’t forget to mention any training that you think you may need. Your career matters, and in conjunction with your manager, it is imperative that you both clearly know where you’re heading.

Onboarding - a two-way process

It's up to the company to ensure they create a welcoming and supportive environment. From your first day onwards, the employer’s role should be that of mentor; explaining the firm's expectations and disclosing hidden agendas, while encouraging and supporting you. The organisation is also responsible for helping you make an impact. Before you arrive they should prepare certain things to help you settle in faster. Your manager should also ensure that you have all the resources you need at your disposal.

Regular formal and informal review meetings should be held within the first few months in order to check on your progress. Some organisations also have a mentoring or ‘buddy’ system to use during the probationary period - if they do make sure you take full advantage as this can really help you settle in faster. The first few months are pivotal and a little effort in ‘onboarding’ can go a long way. For example, Hays works with expert coach mentors, LeaderShape, to provide a support package for newly appointed senior finance professionals, to help improve cultural fit and assist in resolving sensitive issues candidates can face within the first three to six months in the post. It's worth investigating whether your recruiter/employer offers some similar formal onboarding support.

If expectations fall short...

Many of us, through no fault of our own, have found ourselves in jobs to which we are not suited, or working alongside new colleagues we just don't gel with. If this happens to you, don’t panic. Often it takes time to settle into a new organisation and many people have initial reservations, which they quickly overcome.

It could well be that you started during a difficult financial period for the company, and it would be unfair to instantly judge your new company and its employees under these circumstances. To put it into perspective, you would expect your new employers to give you time before forming an opinion on you, so it’s only fair that you do the same with them.

If, however, you are still feeling uncomfortable after the first few weeks, you should approach your manager spelling out your concerns. Don’t do anything rash like hand in your notice at this point – any good manager should take time out to make their new employee feel comfortable, and it may be that they didn’t explain certain aspect of the role properly, or that you misinterpreted them.

Think pro-actively at all times

Make sure you are doing all you can to guarantee your settling-in period is successful, as this will increase your chances of making a positive impression and long-term success. As a senior professional, you represent a very significant investment, therefore the company will expect you to make a quick impact but the first few months offer a surprisingly short time in which to make a mark and build those vital new relationships, so make sure you are thinking proactively from day one.