When you start a new job or join a new company, you will experience what I am calling temporary incompetence. You will have to learn quickly so that you can start doing well what is expected of you. Here are some things to do early on.
Meet your manager: Your manager may schedule a meeting in which case you should take full advantage of it. Do not be timid; find out the responsibilities of the job, expected standards, how she or he would like you to communicate and keep management informed of progress. Do not panic at the sound of anything that seems difficult or overwhelming. You will find out soon enough where to get help.
Know who is who: Find out all the key players; and note that not all will necessarily be just the big title holders. Know who are the gatekeepers, the informal leaders, the influencers and the â€˜go-toâ€™ people; all those from whom you can get a quick overview of how the organisation works, people who will prove helpful over the long haul. Find out which roles in the organogram interact with yours; understand these functions and how you can work well together. If your job includes working with external partners, find out who the top 10 contacts are and go meet them.
Observe, observe, observe: Listen to what people have to say to gain some insight into your new environment, but observe as well and form your own opinions. What are the problems, the issues, what is celebrated, how do the politics play out? Ask questions, and yes, including the ones you think are silly. Resist the edge to join any cliques or to be too opinionated in what you have to say.
Make feedback your friend: Seek feedback on what you do, especially on how you can improve the tasks you are given. Let colleagues know that you want to learn and are very open to their comments. Use your â€˜honeymoonâ€™ period, usually the first 3-6 months (depending on the organisation) when you are allowed to make loads of mistakes, to adjust and keep getting better.
Now take action: How can you respond better when you do not know what to do?