What happens in your first few days, weeks and even months at your new job will tell you what experience you can expect. How can you read, or even rearrange, these tea leaves that may predict your future?
“All of us have been a new employee at one time or another,” says Justin Black, Head of People Science at Glint Inc in Hartsdale, New York. “We start with excitement for the future, anticipation of challenges to come, and desire for belonging with new colleagues. With effective people practices, such as thoughtful recruiting and onboarding, these hopes can become a reality, and we can go on to become happy and successful in our new roles. With ineffective people practices, the opposite is more likely to occur. Glint’s research shows that 40% of employees who experienced a poor onboarding feel disengaged three months into their new job and would not recommend the organization to others. And over the course of a year, disengaged employees are 12 times more likely to quit than highly engaged employees.”
Setting aside what your new company offers in the way of introduction, much of your expectations come from your own perceptions going into the new job.
“Depending on your experience during the screening and selection process, you will start day one with either very good or somewhat negative feelings about your new job,” says Matt Pietsch, Chief Revenue Officer for ENGAGE Talent in Charleston, South Carolina. “Based on this experience, which is truly a direct reflection of your feelings of the brand you have just joined, you will likely experience one of the following: ‘I am excited about my new employer, my new role, my new boss, etc.’ or ‘Did I make the right decision, or what have I done?’ Often the grass is only greener on the other side when you look at from your own yard.”
Defeat Buyer’s Remorse By Asking The Right Questions
It’s a normal feeling. You make a decision, then immediately wonder if you made the right decision. Whether it’s buying a new car or accepting a new position, buyer’s remorse impacts us all.
“Starting a job brings about a confluence of emotions and a whole lot of questions on the part of the new employee,” says William Tincup, President of RecruitingDaily in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. “These range anywhere from ‘Did I make the right decision?’ to ‘Who are my allies and enemies?’ and even, ‘How long do I think I’ll stay here?’”
Consider this just another example of your survival instinct. “There is a combination of excitement and fear for most, but new employees are thinking they want to do well and survive the first day!” says Raquel M. R. Thomas, CEO of Dream Catchers Corp in Columbia, South Carolina.
Sometimes we circle the wagons to survive. This isn’t recommended when you’re beginning with a new employer. “It happens rarely, there will be some candidates who are focused on simply not making mistakes in their first few weeks,” says Ilya Brotzky, CEO of VanHack in Vancouver, British Columbia. “This can happen with people who are outwardly confident, but find the new role is a bit more challenging than they expected. It is a bit of a self-defeating approach, though, because let’s face it, we all make mistakes at some point. We try to advise our candidates to strive to achieve and take the initiative in their new workplace and take ownership of everything they do.”
A better strategy to alleviate the anxiety of buyer’s remorse is to go on the offensive. Get a grasp of your new environment. Ask a few specific questions. Amanda Townsend, Director of People & Culture at Fivetran in the San Francisco Bay Area recommends “new employees ask their direct supervisor these five questions in order to accurately set expectations and position yourself for success.”
- How will my success be measured?
- How can I best support my coworkers and my team?
- What can I do to make sure my manager thinks I’m doing a great job?
- Where can I find resources when I have questions about where to find information?
- Who is my point of contact in HR who can help me sign up for benefits and find other important policies in the company?
What Your New Company Can Do To Help You
You’re not alone in this venture. Your new firm should have an onboarding program for new employees. This will provide you the opportunity to ask those questions you want to ask, as well as give you answers to questions you didn’t think to ask. If you’re lucky, this process isn’t a “one and done” sort of thing.
“While many organizations continue to think of onboarding as a singular event, often centered around an orientation or induction in the first few days, leading companies have embraced the view that it is an ongoing process that can last up to a year,” says Black. “During this time, a new employee is exposed to various facets of an organization’s strategy, structure and culture and may have different needs to be successful given where they are in the onboarding journey. Without a complete understanding of these needs at key junctures throughout the first year, organizations are missing opportunities to check-in with their people and make improvements that will help them be more engaged, productive and likely to stay long-term.”
As the new kid on the block, you can expect a lot of attention from your employer. You’re coming into this with a lot of energy. Your company wants to harness your energy. That’s good for them and good for you, too.
“With new hires, employers have a unique opportunity to direct the employee’s excitement and curiosity to sustainable, positive outcomes,” says Black. “It’s not uncommon to find those within the first year of their tenure score much higher across most engagement dimensions than those with greater tenure.”
An extended onboarding program gives you the best chance to reach your career goals. Black sees that “experiences can vary quite significantly over the course of that first year and they have downstream impacts. In one study of over 400 new hires at a large tech company, we found those who had a favorable 90-day onboarding experience reported 33% higher favorability on engagement a few months later than those with an unfavorable first 90-days. By checking in with our new hires often, and course-correcting as needed, we can ensure we utilize the initial excitement for sustained high engagement and performance.”
Anyone can question their decision to take on a new job. Winners shift their attention from the immediate past to what lies ahead.
Macia Batista, Senior Manager, Operations and Outcomes at General Assembly in New York City, offers this “quick tip” for you as you start a new job: “Focus on the things that are within your control. Instead of ‘what will it be like working here?’ think about what your goals in your new role will be (in 30 days, 90 days, or even a year). What are the skills you need to hone to be successful in your new role, and what resources are available to help you achieve them?”
Start a new job with the right goals in mind and you’ll find a clear path to success.