3 crucial communications tips when starting a new job

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Aug 11

Starting a new job, even one for the same company, is inspiring, stressful, and fantastic -- all at the same time. We sometimes get so wrapped up in our emotions in starting a new job that we forget basic communications techniques we need to follow. Starting out on a new job means we have to watch how we communicate in order to succeed.

Here are the principles to follow:

Understand what you need to accomplish and how it is measured

In my book, I've Landed My Dream Job -- Now What???, I spend a lot of time talking about getting your goals, how you are to achieve them, and how the goals are measured from your manager. There are good reasons for this. You want to ensure you bring your job skills immediately on line with what you need to accomplish on the job. Without knowing what needs accomplishing, you won't be working on the most valuable stuff for your manager.

As well, you need to know how to measure that you are succeeding in working on the right stuff. Without having an independent way of knowing how you are doing, you won't know if you get off track.

The only way to know these critical starting goals is to communicate with your manager. Find out the goals and how they are measured. And, once you start work on the goals, practice prototyping your work with your manager to catch what you are doing right and what can be improved early on.

Ask where to find the information you need rather than reinvent the wheel

I had a manager comment on one of my articles that he/she expected the new hire to ask questions -- but noticeably absent was any offer to provide information about the job. Crazy, but true. Some managers just throw you into the pool and watch to see if you will sink or swim. Thus, you need to prepare yourself to ask your manager and your coworkers where the information is to do your job. If you try and reinvent the wheel, you will waste time and could be viewed as not knowing how to to the work.

All because you didn't ask.

Listen more than talking to gain valuable context

It is easy to have a subject come up and -- since you are told to speak up to be visible in a job all the time -- you take over the conversation about how you do stuff, how you did stuff in your previous job, or offer a process on how to do the work. Early in the job, this is viewed as being pushy, or knowing it all, or arrogant for thinking you have all the answers. Even when you do.

Instead, until you fully understand the context of subjects your coworkers bring up, you should listen way more than you talk. And when you talk, you should ask more questions to gain more insight. You need to contribute, of course. But by asking a question to clarify context before you offer a suggestion, you won't immediately launch into a monologue about how to do something before pulling a Rosanadana moment.

You are the new team member

Remember, there are a whole set of unwritten rules, processes, and social hierarchies associated with your team. Each team handles conflicts, suggestions, recommendations, and accepting work differently. Since you are the outsider coming in on your new job, your teammates expect you to integrate with them, not them integrate with you (which is why interviewing to find out about the team is so critically important in a job search).

Start off right by communicating well right from the beginning of your new job.

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About the Author

Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations.