You know the feeling. You’re excited, nervous, and ready to dive head-first into your new job. When I joined Qumulo’s executive team in August, I felt these feelings and more. Joining Qumulo has been an incredible experience; I’m thrilled to find that it is even better than I imagined.
And yet, onboarding at any company is not easy. We experience all kinds of emotions as we chart our course through new territory. We want to have a real impact quickly, yet we don’t know the culture of the new company. We bring many expectations and hopes to a new job, some that are realistic and inevitably some that are not. And, our new manager is likely doing the same thing. It’s no wonder that so many books and articles are written on this subject. Do a search on Amazon Books for “onboarding” and you’ll find 131 books. Try searching by “new job” and you’ll find 8,000!
I’ve experienced onboarding both as a new executive, and as a HR leader helping others to ramp up in their new jobs. In my experience, there are a few key steps that will help you take control of the process and get the most out of your first few months.
- Establish relationships.
Oddly enough, many articles or books talk about establishing relationships as a step later in the onboarding process. I think it is an immediate priority and the jumping-off point for a successful onboarding experience. Sure, you were hired because they expect you to do great work, but who you are is often even more important. Are you someone people can trust? Do you care about your teammates, product, customers? What will you do when the going gets tough? Inquiring minds will want to know. Make sure you take the time to share and make it easy for others to get to know you. At Qumulo, we call this “Share by Default” and it’s one of our core values.
- Have a plan for your first three months, at a minimum.
If your manager created an onboarding plan for you, congratulations! Bonus if you got it on your first day! If they didn’t, then create your own and share it with your manager. Better yet, ask about your onboarding before you start and propose that you create your plan with their help. After all, you know best how you learn.
- Manage expectations.
You will probably work hard to understand what your manager expects of you. Don’t second-guess what success looks like! This is far too important. Have an explicit conversation before you start, when you start and along the way. Also, don’t lose sight of managing your own expectations. You’re going to have days when you feel on top of the world, and days when you wonder what the heck you were thinking. This is natural, so be prepared for it and be kind to yourself. If you still feel this way a few months later, then you may need to re-evaluate.
- Get some early wins.
I know, this seems obvious. Of course you want to make a great impression and quickly get stuff done. Early wins though are not only about showing that you can do the job. They are also about testing and learning. When you execute on a quick win, you are learning about how things get done in your new company and discovering the unwritten rules of the culture. How are opinions shared? How are disagreements handled? How are decisions made? Help yourself and the company by identifying one or two high-impact, low-risk and quick-to-execute actions you can complete in your first 30 days. And then do it again for your next 30 days, and your next.
No matter what advice you follow, the most important tip I have is to take care of yourself. The first few months are critical. How you show up and what you accomplish in these months will set the stage for the rest of your time with the company. Establishing relationships, getting quick wins, learning the culture and the larger business can be challenging, and there will be the emotional ups and downs. You may be tempted to give it your all at the expense of everything else in your life. I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to keep balance and, perhaps counterintuitively, seen how balance has helped me achieve more success in my career.
Taking care of yourself will help you tackle the challenges of ramping up in a new job and ultimately set you up for long term success. Be sure to know your priorities outside of work and make a commitment to yourself to keep them. I make a commitment to a few small things I can do every day. These commitments only cost me a few minutes a day, and pay off significantly towards my relationships and my peace of mind. For example, every morning I write in a gratefulness journal while I share coffee with my husband. During my walk to and from the train station to my office, I don’t look at my smartphone. Instead I use that time to be present in, and experience the world around me. What small step can you take today to take better care of yourself? Both you and your company invested a great deal in this new relationship. A great company will want you to be healthy and whole and in it for the long-term. So should you.
If you’re interested in being part of the Qumulo team, check out our listing of job openings!
Robyn is Vice President of People at Qumulo. She brings more than 18 years Human Resources leadership experience in leading technology companies driving business growth through people programs. Before Qumulo, Robyn served as the Director of HR for the Amazon Sellers Marketplace where she led a global HR team that enabled 20,000 employees to provide products and solutions to Sellers worldwide. Prior to Amazon, she served as the Vice President of Human Resources for Nintex, leading global people practices for the pre-IPO start up. Robyn has also held leadership roles with Citrix Systems and Microsoft, leading HR for teams in Xbox, Windows and Marketing.