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How to Onboard into a New Role

Starting off on the right foot is crucial to your onboarding experience. Let's maximize output and build relationships ASAP.
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Beginning a new role is exciting! How you dive in can impact your relationships and output in the near and long term, so starting off on the right foot is critical. Here's some advice to nail your next onboarding

Cultivate Relationships with Cross-Functional Stakeholders

Cultivating relationships early on in a new role is vital as it fosters collaboration, knowledge sharing, and support. Building rapport with colleagues enables effective teamwork, accelerates learning, and provides guidance through mentorship. It also helps you understand how your role and objectives fit into the broader picture, what levers you can pull to drive better outcomes and effectively manage up and out. Beginning relationship building early gives you more runway to create a foundation for success and a supportive network that can positively impact your overall performance and professional growth.

Put it into practice

  1. Schedule one-on-one meetings with your team and cross-functional stakeholders to build rapport and understand their roles. Going beyond your direct team is critical - plan to meet with all of the key individuals who you expect to work with or need to gain buy-in from.
  2. Learn about their strengths, expertise, and how you can collaborate effectively.

Here are some questions to guide your conversation

What is your role within the organization, and how do you see it intersecting with my role?

  • This question helps you understand the stakeholder's responsibilities and how your roles may overlap or complement each other. It provides clarity on collaboration opportunities and potential areas of alignment.

What are your core goals and how can I help you accomplish them?

  • Understanding what their key motivations are will help anchor how you convey ideas, and will ultimately help you collaborate more effectively and gain buy-in in the future.

What are your expectations for our collaboration? What's your preferred working style?

  • By asking about expectations and working style, you establish a shared understanding of how you can work together effectively. It allows you to align on goals, communication preferences, and deliverables, ensuring a productive working relationship.

Are there any current or upcoming projects or initiatives where we can collaborate?

  • Inquiring about collaborative opportunities demonstrates your willingness to contribute and be an active participant. It opens the door for potential joint projects, cross-functional initiatives, or areas where your expertise can be leveraged.

Understand your role and how you'll be evaluated

Understanding your role and how you'll be evaluated when onboarding into a new role is crucial for clarity, goal setting, and performance alignment. It enables you to focus on the right priorities, set meaningful goals, and track your progress effectively. Clear evaluation criteria also help you identify areas for skill development and foster open communication for feedback and career growth opportunities.

Put it into practice

Schedule time with your manager earlier on to discuss the following:
1. Working Style + Feedback Loop: What's your preferred method of giving and receiving feedback? How can I best keep you in the loop?
2. Their objectives (as these will influence yours): What are your most important goals for the year and how can I help you accomplish them?
3. Your goals: What are the two to three most critical accomplishments I need to achieve within X timeframe (you may want to break this up into immediate goals, ~6 month goals and ~12 month goals). Gain clarity how you'll be measured.Be sure you also understand how your - and your manager's - goals ladder up to company objectives.

Be A Sponge

Soaking up information during onboarding is important because it allows you to understand the company's context, build relationships, learn from others' experiences, assess opportunities and challenges, and gain credibility. By taking the time to listen and learn, you can make more informed decisions and avoid missteps. It sets the foundation for effective collaboration and positions you to make impactful changes once you have a comprehensive understanding of the organization. Plus - nobody likes when someone comes in and wants to change everything right away.

Put it into practice

Take notes + reflect! Bring a journal to every meeting. Here are some things to think about:

  • Are your conversations with different stakeholders aligned? Has anything been contradictory?
  • What's working? What's not working?
  • What are some of the biggest challenges and learnings?
  • What are big opportunities - why does the team think they're important?
  • What are employees and customers biggest pain points?
  • Do you understand the business model thoroughly - how does the business make money? What's the value prop? What brings customers in? What drives churn? Etc.

Find Early Wins

Early wins help you quickly contribute value to the organization, demonstrating your impact and generating positive impressions, which will help you garner support from stakeholders faster. Additionally, early wins create a sense of accomplishment and motivation, fueling your enthusiasm and setting a positive tone for your ongoing performance (it'll give you confidence!).Be conscious of balancing your eagerness to get an early win with understanding what would actually constitute as a win. Sometimes when onboarding to a new role, it's easy to see all of the low hanging fruit, but in time you end up learning that while yes you can spend time fixing those issues - it isn't really going to move the needle for the business. Don't just do for the sake of it, be thoughtful in your approach. Rely on what you've learned in your 1:1s to help you identify what will be seen as a success and what won’t be.

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