On Onboarding

While getting the offer and setting a start date is a fundamental element of your transition, the first ninety days will be even more fundamental; The first impressions are made, partnerships established, and, not to be too dramatic, the trajectory of your career there is set.

Opinions formed during the first 90 days can be changed, but with great effort. In addition, companies look for employees to demonstrate cultural and system familiarity within 90 days, if not sooner. The first 90 days are worth special attention. This is not business as usual.

Transitions are most often learned through the school of hard knocks. However, there’s been enough study to recognize the trends in successful transitions.

  • Be quick to learn new ways and methods; all dogs can learn new tricks. Companies do things differently.
  • Take time to learn the culture to build partnerships; don’t be in too much of a hurry to make your mark that you miss opportunities to build critical relationships.
    Clear realistic expectations for yourself and others; You’re new to them. They are new to you. It takes time.
  • Know what you don’t know; every organization is radically different – even similar ones. Hold back your strong opinions early on till you have understanding. Learn their landscape. Learn their nuances. Learn their people. Leadership is much more about asking questions than answering them. Arrogance will alienate and squander opportunities.
  • Technical knowledge is good; cultural and relational knowledge is even better. Technical knowledge can be filled in easily with questions. Cultural insight takes quiet and patient attention.
  • Pay great attention to horizontal relationships – Not just your boss and subordinates. Peers are stakeholders. Achieve alignment with everyone.
  • Make others successful and shine; You look good when others look good. “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Focus on creating many virtuous cycles of humility, effective relationship building and understanding, followed by mission-completing persuasiveness, and ultimately building incredible organizational credibility. This is how you get those early career-boosting wins early in the job.

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Author: TJ Kastning

TJ Kastning is the proud owner of Ambassador Search Group, a special high-touch, trust-based, old-fashioned headhunting firm serving only the best west coast companies.

To contact him email tj@ambassadorgroup.com.

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