Preparing to Start Again

by Palesa Motanyane

Start

It has often been said that people spend far more time thinking about and planning for their wedding and completely neglect to give the same kind of attention to the actual marriage. Starting a new job can be much the same if you spend all your energy focussing on the first day of work and assume that the induction will take care of the rest or that things will automatically fall into place with time. So after all the effort of finding that new job, sending out your CV countless times, attending numerous interviews, negotiating a satisfactory remuneration package, you finally get the job. Now you need to turn your attention to preparing for the new job so that you can optimise on the opportunity, especially if it is a step up, without being overwhelmed by the newness of it all.

People First

Meeting people will probably take up much of your time in those first few days and this will be as directed by someone in HR and/or your immediate boss. But you still need to take time out to quickly build these relationships beyond mere introductions. Remember old employees already have a way of relating to your position and will probably subconsciously hold on to whatever baggage that has accumulated over time. You need to go out of your way to make them understand that there is a new person in the old position and therefore foster a new relationship. And be careful; do not be trapped into accounting and rectifying old issues that have nothing to do with you.
 
Review your job

Now that you are actually in the job, you need to recognise that you have a new perspective on what you were hired to do. Before you had an outsider’s bird’s eye view, based largely on assumptions and second hand information. The change may be vast or subtle, but it will result in a deeper understanding of the organisation, the people you work with and what needs to be done. The same goes to those who have hired you – from the time the job spec was originally written to the time when you actually come on board, things might have shifted some. Take some time to revisit the original job requirements, over and above compiling your key performance indicators. This will form your guideline when developing your overall work plan and also alert you to additional factors that have been added more recently. More importantly, this is your reference guide to why you are there and therefore what you need to do.
 
Watch and learn

Often we enter a new job and we want to put our personal stamp on things immediately. We need to prove that we know what we are doing and that we are action orientated. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but do not make the mistake of unnecessarily rushing into changing things in order to prove yourself. It does not hurt to be cautious and a little circumspect by adopting a watch and learn approach. Allow things to continue as they have in the past, incorporating yourself into the existing system, and take the opportunity to observe what works, what needs drastic change and what needs only a little tweaking.
 
Manage expectations

Colleagues who have been there longer may have expectations for what you need to be setting as your priorities in the new job. This is especially so for those you will be working closely with. Realise that while what is important to them matters, you still need to set your own agenda as determined by you and your boss. In addition to having expectations, you may find other employees to be quite territorial of their work and areas of responsibility. On the surface they may go all out to accommodate you, but you may find that the more accommodating they are, the more resistant they become to any perceived encroachment of their space. Again, tread lightly so as to not antagonise people you may desperately need in the future.

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