Doris finds is unsettling. She is a high performer in her team – at least that is what her rating indicates. After a few months in her new role she finds that her peers get more opportunities, responsibilities and rewards from the manager than her. Despite working hard and diligently others are pulling ahead of her. She decides she must change her personal style of working. However that adds more stress since she isn’t always comfortable around people but forces herself to be in the middle of the action and become more successful. Over time her work suffers and her leaders notice a drop in performance.
Alex is close to 3 months in his new role at a leading multinational bank. He has been observing that the approach to inducting new hires has been slow and often cumbersome with many days spent in-house rather than with customers. He writes up a plan to make changes to the training process and shares it with his leaders who take a liking to the new approach. They recognize his effort and put him on a fast track project to get more out of his talent. Soon, there is a restructure that takes place in Alex’s workplace and due to his proactive solution to the training process he is retained and continues to perform well in his role.
Over my last 2 posts ( Make Sense of Work and Life and Know What the Future Holds) I shared insights and perspectives on starting out in your career can mean. In this post I cover ways for new hires to think deeply about themselves and what they stand for to make a difference.
Before getting to a clear plan, it is essential to appreciate the world of work from a theoretical context. Understanding these theories and how they play out at the workplace can help make meaning to practical issues new hires will experience.
According to the leader-member exchange theory managers have an in-group and out-group. The former are closer to the leader and have access to communication, opportunities, responsibilities and rewards. The latter are managed by formal rules and policies and often react against the organization due to their position. The other relevant theory is the social exchange theory that explains how movement of valued resources takes place via two-way interactions leading to improved relationships. Individuals are more likely to behave to a reward stimulus basis how, when and how often they experienced earlier interactions. In a new world order, as employees before personal brands first and then advocates for the organization a ‘give-give’ exchange is expected more often. Exchange of skills, tools, resources lead to reciprocity of new commitments, time, effort and money that comes back to the giver.
New hires must begin by self-introspecting on their worth and what they expect from their experience at a workplace. Apart from knowing that one can make a difference to the workplace, it is important to know if the organization will give you support to pursue your goals and that you are working towards a common goal.
Knowing your preference for working, the culture you will be living in and the organization’s goals can provide you a better grip when you get started. For example, at the workplace you will find colleagues who are experts in specific areas (domain champions), traditional career graphers (who aim to work through the system), experientialists (who love the range and depth of experiences) and entrepreneurs (who gain experience for future businesses they will start). Decoding the culture expects one to be observant and mindful at the workplace. Be aware of the values and ways of working. However, look for the tacit assumptions about the workplace and if employees are living it.
The first 100 days is crucial for new hires to get familiar with the workplace and transition into the organization smoothly. Organizations expect the employee to be contributing from day one. After 90 days the employee isn’t considered new to the role or the organization! The expectation is to begin adding value and delivering results.
Moving from a campus to the corporate world isn’t easy and one needs to make a mental note of what the new role will be at the workplace. This 100 day plan excludes the orientation program which every employee will experience during the first few days at work.
Consider this plan to build credibility, invest in learning, gauge opportunities and challenges, engage leaders and peers, make the most appropriate decisions and craft a future at the workplace.
Internally, the plan helps you learn about the organization, team, culture and your peers.
Set up meetings with your team. It includes investing in training, seeking insights about the ways of working, what practices worked and hasn’t, read the corporate literature and get to know the key influencers.
How does one identity key players in an organization? Look for those who manage teams, are accountable for resources, direct change, have access to information, are provided status and command loyalty. Don’t limit your span of influence and learning only to your internal stakeholders. Get hold of a list of external forums and industry bodies that the organization engages with and network with alumni and experts to know more about the state of the business. Enroll for certifications that bolster your merit in the organization.
Sign up as a volunteer and involve yourself with projects that are currently underway. Research reports indicate that those employees who are engaged as volunteers have more enriching experiences in their lives and stay loyal to their organization.
In terms of transitioning to the new role the employee is expected to ask questions and be clear on the tasks on hand. If there are plans which already exist, learn more about the context and which elements worked for the organization. Take feedback from stakeholders as you improve on the plans. Demonstrate quick wins as you begin performing on the role. While making progress also look for mentors who can guide and coach as you plan next role and expand your horizons.
Being your best at the workplace is also about staying connected with workplace changes around you. Observe information that is shared and not shared. To build strong relationships, you need to be seen as credible, consistent, competent, trustworthy and honest. Organizations expect employees to go beyond the role and add value. Frequently contributing to initiatives outside the scope of work is known to drive the team’s performance. Knowing that you are making progress each day is essential for your engagement at work. Believe in your organization to gain more from the experiences and interactions at the workplace. The future belongs to those who can grasp newer skills for the workplace – having a design mindset, making sense of the complex world, being empathetic and creating value for the organization. While doing this be aware of credibility degraders such as indulging in office politics or sharing information that isn’t appropriate or confidential with anyone at the workplace.
Overall, to make an impact it is important to understand who you are, get immersed in the culture, believe in the workplace and mission, do your best, add value to others, give as much as you can and be yourself.
Agree or disagree? I am keen to hear your thoughts.