Wow 'Em in a Week

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Posted by The Editors on June 16, 2011
Wow 'Em in a Week

Congratulations--you got the job! You've also got a case of the pre-start jitters. Nothing's worse than starting out on the wrong foot; bungling things your first week can depress your confidence and your manager's confidence. Besides, you're used to succeeding, and you want to wow 'em.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to integrate yourself into a new job and make a positive impression that will give you a jump start to success at even the most competitive company. We spoke to new employees, established employees, and managers in various industries to develop a six-day program to help you hit the ground running during your first week on the job.

Sunday
After picking out your outfit for Monday, spend an hour or so getting mentally prepared for your big day. Determine your priorities with regard to your new job. What are the top three things you hope to learn or accomplish? What is your understanding of your role at the company? What projects are the most important and which ones are you most excited about? Write these down on a piece of paper and bring it with you to work on Monday.

Monday
If there isn't already a check-in meeting scheduled with your manager, ask for one. Here's where the list of priorities you wrote up the night before will come in handy. Compare notes with your manager about your goals for this week. What are you expected to cover in terms of general learning? What projects need to be accomplished right away and what are some long-term projects you can get a head-start on? What steps are involved in each?

As much as possible, try to get concrete deadlines for every project. If there are discrepancies between your list and your manager's that trouble you, now's a good time to bring them up. This meeting will give you a chance to shape your role at the company before your boss does it for you.

Tuesday
Get organized. Whether you are a devotee of the Palm or a follower of Franklin, you'll need to have a system in place to keep track of tasks and manage your time efficiently. If you use an online program to stay organized or find your planner too cumbersome to port around all the time, keep a notepad and pen with you. Highlight action items and enter them into the system as soon as possible to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. If you haven't had one already, ask for a tour of the office's filing system so you can start using it right away.

Wednesday

By now, you should be able to pick out the fast-trackers as well as potential mentors. Begin scheduling lunch with each of those people individually to get their take on the office culture and what you can do to succeed. What does the company expect of employees? What's the lowdown on the boss? What's the best way to approach him or her for help or feedback?

Your goal in getting to know others in the office isn't to impress, but to get to know them and learn all that you can from them. Don't worry if all the information you need isn't immediately forthcoming. Trust is something built over time, and as your coworkers get to know you better, they'll gradually open up. By showing an interest in getting to know them early on in the job, you'll accelerate the friendship process and you'll build a network of allies who will help you excel at your job down the road.

Thursday
You should have a general understanding of office procedures and the administrative tasks by now. Spend some time consulting your company's training manuals; check with coworkers to make sure you know these logistics inside and out. For instance: Who are the company's vendors and how do you contact them? Do you need to make your own travel arrangements? Who do you go to when you have a computer problem? What's the procedure for ordering office supplies or requesting expense reimbursements? How much lead time do you need when sending a job to the copiers?

Most projects that you manage will require you to cooperate with others. If you can anticipate who those parties will be and work out details with them ahead of time, you'll spare yourself stress.

Friday
Ask your manager if you can have a brief meeting to discuss your progress over the week. How do the things you accomplished stack up to the list of priorities that you and your manager agreed upon on Monday? Don't worry about making demands on his or her time. By maintaining an open line of communication between yourself and your manager, you're doing both of you a favor. You're also showing your commitment to doing the best job you can, which makes his or her job that much easier.

Take whatever feedback you get and type it up after the meeting. If your manager gave you any advice on improving your performance or making your job easier, you'll want to have a record of it. When it comes time for your next evaluation-formal or informal-you can use that record to highlight areas in which you've demonstrated improvement and to point out areas that you still need to work on. Your manager will appreciate your initiative and cooperation.

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