When you are starting a new project, role, or position you want to make a great first impression. Here are five ways you can do just that.
Start with a clean sheet. Just as you research the organization, do an in-depth personal inventory of your own skills, behaviors and attitudes. Think about previous positions and experiences: what worked for you and what didn’t, and why. You’ve got an ideal opportunity to build the new and improved professional you. Write down those personal characteristics that you’d like to improve. Then, develop a strategy to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. For instance, if you were never prepared for meetings, write down ways to improve your performance. If you were always late on assignments, develop a routine that will keep you on time. Develop a reputation for honesty and integrity. It is a reputation you must earn over time. And live up to that reputation at all times, at work and everywhere else.
Orient yourself. As part of your orientation, your organization should have done a number of things to bring you up to speed and get you plugged in as fast as possible. But you can’t bank on the organization taking the initiative. Sadly, few companies recognize the value of making orientation a priority. Don’t worry. Remember the old phrase, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Design and implement your own orientation program. Set up meetings with the key people you will interact with. Remember names. Find out what departments you will need to work with. Look for resources you need or that you can draw upon.
Send the right message. Dress conservatively. Don’t let your clothes attract more attention than your ideas. Hold in check any behavior that could be deemed offensive to others, including drinking alcoholic beverages over the lunch hour or at professional or social events where customers or co-workers are present, or using profanity.
Stay grounded. Organizations exist to serve customers. Find out all you can about your new organization’s customer base. What attracts them to your organization? Why do they stay? Why do they leave? Base all your decisions on what the customer wants. Be the voice of the customer. Although you’ll have to be diplomatic, you work for the customer, not for the organization.
Get cultured. How do your skills mesh with the corporate culture? Look for clues about how the organization operates so that you can operate effectively within it. For example:
- How does your boss like information: an impromptu face-to-face meeting? Memo? E-mail?
- Is it an open-door environment or are formal meetings preferred? How are they conducted? Who needs to be involved?
- Who do you need to keep in the loop and when?
There is little you can do to fight the corporate culture. But the more you know and understand about the unwritten rules, the more effective you will be. One rule of thumb: regardless of the corporate culture – always be early to appointments and meetings. It shows respect and tees you up to have an influence in the meeting.