My First 90 Days: Establishing the Tone

In this series, professionals share how they rocked — or didn’t! — the all-important first 90 days on the job. Follow the stories here and write your own(please include the hashtag #First90 in the body of your post).

It’s never easy being the new guy in the office; adapting to the way that people do things, learning the business and the people, and getting your arms around the work that you have in front of you. As much as some of these things seem out of your control, there are a few things you can do in the first 90 days that are in your control, and they will go a long way in establishing the tone of the employee that you are and reaffirm to your new employer that they made the right choice in hiring you.

1. Solicit Feedback. Ask your new colleagues for their opinion of how things are being done in your situation – good and bad – and how you can make the good better and improve on the bad. Include them on being part of the solution. Keep an open mind on how your company does things and how you may be able to contribute to that.

2. Make Partners. It’s always more beneficial to have friends and allies than adversaries; this no more true than in the workplace. Identify the movers and shakers, the influencers, and make them a partner in what you are doing. Chances are, they will have good suggestions and will help you get where you need to be, and their opinions and suggestions carry tremendous weight in the organization. Give them a stake in what you are doing; they will be more willing to help you and share in the success, and they will give you an opportunity to contribute to what they are doing as well.

3. Go Above and Beyond. Going above and beyond means more than just coming in early/staying late and working hard at your job; these are givens. Aside from just working hard, you have to be willing to do anything that helps the company, even if the task is not in your wheelhouse. In a position I had previously, the company was late in getting their collateral done for an important convention and only had 1 day to get all the convention packets ready for the mail. Even though I was working in digital marketing, I re-arranged some things in my schedule and stayed until 9:00 PM stuffing envelopes. I did so because it was a major priority for the company and nothing else I could have been doing would have been more important. It also gave me a great reputation as a worker who could be depended upon.

4. Don’t Complain. As a supervisor, one of the red flags I watched for in a new employee is how much they complained about things in the first few days on the job: their chair, their cube, their software, their hardware, meetings they had to go to, etc. No situation is going to be perfect, and most of the time you are just going to have to make do. They gave you a job you asked for, so not complaining is a symbol of gratitude. Take this opportunity to show how you can work under adversity, in any conditions, and still produce great work.

5. Don’t Bad-mouth your old employer. You may not have liked your last job or boss, but that opinion is one you should always keep to yourself. Griping about how horrible your old boss was and how much you hated working there is a major red flag; it usually signals that eventually you will be turning your venom towards them. Really, there is no reason to complain about an old job in a new job; you got the new job at the new company, the bad job is in your rear view mirror, you WON. SMILE.

5. Follow the Rules. Companies don’t make rules for rules sake; there is a darn good reason the rules are in place. Your task here is simple: follow the rules. Don’t think that a dress code you don’t agree with doesn’t apply to you, because it does, and don’t think your bosses will let you skate on on it, because they won’t. These are the guidelines that everybody – from the CEO down – must follow. Understand and follow the rules without exception and don’t try to make shortcuts. My father used to tell me: “Shortcuts are the short road to nowhere.” He was right. The company you work for pays your rent and feeds your family. Following the company rules is a sign of respect.

In your first days in a new position, your supervisors are looking for affirmation that they made the right decision in hiring you. By making a point of being the model employee, coupled with your super work ethic and mind-blowing contributions to the company, will set the table for a productive and happy relationship.

Michael Dillon is a content management systems (CMS) expert, digital strategist and web project manager. He reads and writes alot. Check out his website.