In most instances, I think people consider a new employee’s first 30 days a time to learn. A time to absorb as much new information about processes, job duties, and new coworkers as possible. I’d agree with that perspective BUT offer an additional point of view… that the first 90 days is also one of your most significant opportunities to positively impact your new company.
I’m Leslie. The “Willow newbie.” Here to offer wisdom gained during my recent stint of “stuffing as much Willow knowledge into my brain as humanly possible”—otherwise known as New Employee Onboarding. So why, after admitting my first 30 days was all about learning, am I also advocating that this is a period for impact?
Have you ever heard the “Coffee, Egg, or Carrot” parable? It’s a fairly popular story used in business – all about the different ways things can react when placed in hot water. While it is normally used as a way to motivate someone facing challenging circumstances, I think it has some application for new employees. The story goes like this: three items get placed in boiling water (challenging circumstances), and they all react differently. The carrot goes in strong and hard but its “circumstances” change it. It becomes soft and weaker than it was going in. The egg also changes. Its insides become hardened. But the coffee bean… it transforms the water into something better. It influences its surroundings.
New employees can be the coffee bean.
New employees have the power of a unique experience and fresh perspective. That is, if you’re brave enough to offer them up. In business, those traits are priceless. Ask anyone at the office why they do something a certain way and chances are that you’ll get something along the lines of, “I dunno… it’s just how we do it.” Or, you might get, “We want to do it differently, we just haven’t had the time to change it.”
Disclaimer time. This only works if you have an employer who is going to be receptive. And if you go into the conversation with the right approach. Lucky for me, Willow lives up to the “Ohh!” value it proclaims. As a company, Willow is open to discovery, rather than committed to being right. That, coupled with my staunch insistence in sharing my ideas with those who will listen, set the stage for productive conversations about my experience as a new employee and how best practices from former gigs could be applied for the betterment of the Willow Way.
I’m less than two months in and I can claim to have had an impact on the scoping process, how we track unbillable time that benefits our relationship with our clients, the employee handbook, and even the presence of pets on employee bio pages—they aren’t up yet, but you can bet your bottom dollar that my pup Huxley’s mug will be on my bio page before the year is out.
In addition to Willow reaping the benefits of new ideas, I feel like I’ve developed an invaluable, reciprocal relationship with my employer. Willow allowed me a voice and, consequently, cemented my sense of commitment to the company’s success. I’ve been given a way to provide immediate value, while still learning about where the spare toilet paper is stored and how to submit expense reports.
For employees and employers alike, my encouragement is the same. Take advantage of this unique period of time. Don’t treat an employee’s first 30-90 days as a one-sided learning phase. Treat it as a time where both sides can teach each other. Make coffee.
- And while you’re making all the coffee, here are a couple of other tips to get started off on the right foot, as the newest member of the team: Build relationships. Spend as much 1:1 time with people as you can, and try to make the time focused on getting to know the PERSON, not just the role they play within the organization. Early connection and rapport will go a long way once you start working together.
Really work the full day. I found that I had a lot of time that was unaccounted for and unscheduled. While it was tempting to twiddle my thumbs, or even take off a little early (knowing there would be plenty of times I would be working late, once work really started), I tried to stay productive for the full 8 hours. There is ALWAYS something to learn, systems to set-up, or someone to shadow. Take the initiative and maximize your day!
Continuously check in with your manager. Let him or her know what you are focused on, with temp checks to make sure you are on track with expectations. It also gives you the opportunity to create a really positive impression about what a “go-getter” you are.
Document, document, document. If you learn a process, don’t keep it written in a notebook. Create a checklist for yourself, and, if it might provide value to someone else, share it out as a resource. Many times, the way things work are simply stored in people’s heads. Make it part of the record. Your colleagues and bosses will thank you for it!