Starting out at a new job can be overwhelming – you’re in an unfamiliar environment and there’s a short window of opportunity to either adapt to the culture or risk slipping through the cracks. Talented people can fail in a new role from several reasons: perhaps the organization failed to explain the cultural rules, or maybe new hires are too focused on the job that they overlook environmental cues. If you want to be perceived as successful in your new role, here are 4 things to start paying attention to:
Every company is different in how they grow relationships and value collaboration. Some companies require a lot of face-time before you’re able to provide any influence. In others, emailing, texting, or conferencing is preferred. When starting out, ask collogues how to approach relationships with leadership and observe how they’re getting work done. Are people spending time in meetings together? Or do they tend to stay at their desks or work from home? Mimick what others are doing until you find what’s going to work best for you.
Every person has their preferred method of communication and this is no different at work. Again, observation is key. Are people connecting through formal channels, like planned meetings? Or do things move forward more spontaneously with less documentation? Start by asking your manager what the expectations are.
Often times, hierarchy will play a role. You may need to get approval from your manager before communicating to senior leaders. In less hierarchical companies, you might be encouraged to go directly to them on issues. The best way to navigate is to ask around.
No matter what form, meetings will always be a part of company operations. Take note of how information is being presented in meetings. Do people respond well to formal presentations or can individuals successfully share information in real-time? Keep in mind how meetings are typically run. Which type of issues are being debated versus being “checked-off.” Most importantly, observe how senior leaders respond to formal presentations vs. Informal discussions. Which style consistently results in a positive decision?
How decisions get made will vary from company to company. Sometimes, formal meetings are used to make decisions, sometimes they are made offline. Either way, it’s important to understand if the culture tends to lean towards action or analysis. If the organization is more action-oriented, attention spans are shorter, and decisions are made quickly. If you’re presenting material you need to be clear and give stakeholders all the information they’re looking for to make a quick decision. On the opposite end, extended discussion of options might be preferred, where more patience will be required from your end.
The most important thing to be aware of when you join a new company, is that your previous experience doesn’t give an automatic pass to act outside of the company’s cultural norms. You’re past achievements will be valued, but your success will be determined by the impact you’ll make in the new environment. How you work within the culture can determine how your impact is amplified.