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How To: Make a Big Impact in Your New Job

Trevor Smith

Trevor Smith

Congratulations! You’ve landed your dream job – but now what? Founder of Hong Kong based executive coaching, training, and facilitation practice, The Orchard Partnership, and ICF accredited professional certified coach, Trevor Smith, shares his simple and effective techniques to maximise your chances of success, and avoid the potential banana skins.

Someone once said to me, “If you want to know the road ahead, ask the people coming back.” So, without further ado, these are my tips for making a big impact in your new job. I hope you can apply them, and I wish you all the best in your new role.

1. Before you start

In your mind at least, the day you start your new role should be the day you win the job, not the day you physically start. This pre-joining period is valuable time to think, plan, and prepare for the first few months in your new role.

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You should start thinking about what you need to do in your new position and create a written plan. Begin by writing down your answers to the following questions:

  • Is my non-work life in order, so that I can fully focus from day one?
  • What do I need to know and how can I address the gaps in my knowledge and skills?
  • How can I make sure I am fully rested and recharged for the challenge ahead?

2. Your first day  

This is your chance to make a positive impact with your new boss and colleagues right from the get-go. I suggest you ‘walk the floor’ and greet everyone with a warm handshake, a smile, and a follow up email. You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

There is a lot to absorb at the start, so take a good quality notepad with you, and begin jotting down your thoughts and observations immediately. This proved invaluable for me when I changed roles in the past and many of my clients say the same.

In my experience, very few people know exactly what is expected of them and how they will be measured. Day one is your opportunity to meet with your new boss to nail down targets, key performance indicators (KPIs), and measurable values to make sure you don’t get caught out at your first annual performance review!

3. Your first week

Begin the process of identifying what you need to learn as soon as possible. Cross-check your knowledge, skills, and experience against your role profile and competencies. There is a risk of mental indigestion and burn-out if you try to learn too much in one go, so break it down into bite-size chunks and record your progress in your plan.

As the ‘newbie’ you have a limited window to ask innocent questions to help you assess the landscape:

  • What’s working well around here?
  • What tips can you give me to make my new role a success?
  • How can we work well together?
  • If there was one thing we should change, what would that be?

During the week I suggest you identify the key influencers in your new world. This might not necessarily be your boss! Most importantly, don’t rush to make changes or be ‘buffaloed’ by others until you are ready.

4. Your first month

By now you should have a good grasp of what needs to be done, the areas of concern, and key milestones and deliverables expected by your boss or stakeholders.

Now is the time to pull out your trump card, communicating your pre-prepared vision of the future. Here begins the process of getting buy-in from colleagues and your team. Some good examples I have come across are, “From this point on we are playing to win”, “We will be the automatic choice in our market”, and “Our goal is to be world class at what we do”. Whatever you feel is right for you – just keep repeating your vision at every opportunity.

5. Review

By this stage you are likely to be battling against email and information overload! Nevertheless, you must have the self-discipline to allocate a chunk of time to review and reflect:

  • What’s going well?
  • What should I do differently?
  • What are the likely challenges ahead?

Then create your plan for month two and beyond.

Need advice? If you want to maximise your potential and excel in the workplace, check out The Orchard Partnership.


Read more! Find out How To: Write a Successful CV, and explore the rest of our How To section.

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