How Do I Get Off on the Right Foot at a New Job?

Last Updated Apr 8, 2009 12:55 PM EDT

Dear Ron,
After getting laid off from a job I've held for 10 years, I've finally managed to find a new job as a manager at a packaged goods company. It's been a while since I started a new job, so how can I quickly create the right impression with my boss and new colleagues?
It's time to be aggressive on two fronts: one, in getting a handle on your company's business, and two, in doing your early branding to establish your reputation as an enthusiastic and motivated problem solver. With respect to this first task, you want to learn more about not just your specific area, which is a given, but also how all the pieces of your company fit together and where its strengths and weaknesses lie. Talk to a lot of people outside your area, perhaps by just asking them to coffee, explaining that you're new and want to get up to speed, and asking them questions, in a collaborative way, about their areas and insights into the company.

On the branding front, you want to quickly shape a positive and powerful impression of who you are and what you bring to the table. Use every meeting and interaction with your new colleagues to introduce yourself, explain your background, and show what you're hoping to do at your new company. Seek out your colleagues and superiors who seem to be the most knowledgeable and successful, and ask them informed questions about the company and how things get done there, which will also give you valuable insight into the corporate culture.

One of my clients recently landed a new position as a director at a large manufacturing company. After getting the job and starting there, he went back to everyone he interviewed with, especially those high up on the org chart, and thanked them for the opportunity. He shared some smart first impressions with them, asked knowledgeable questions about the company and its challenges, and laid the foundation for regular and continuing contact with each of them.

All of this affirmed their judgment that they had hired the right person and after just a few months there, he's considered a great fit and possibly someone in their succession plans. While you may not be that far up the food chain yet, that's the kind of impression you want to make whenever you start a new position.

Send Ron your career and job-related questions.
  • Ron Brown

    Ronald B. Brown is a leading expert in the fields of leadership development and organizational change. He is the founder and president of Banks Brown, a management consulting firm that specializes in providing leading-edge skills to optimize the performance of leaders and organizations. He has served as a consultant to Fortune 100 corporations such as the Procter & Gamble Company, Avon Products, Inc., McDonald's Corporation, General Electric Plastics, Kaiser Permanente, Shell Oil Company, Eastman Kodak Company, General Mills Inc., and Motorola, Inc. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. and B.S. from Michigan State University.

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