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.

Follow

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.

  • This is a nice summary. I definitely agree with listening more than you talk when you first start a job.

    I’m a big talker, but I make sure I am all ears as my senses are on high alert whenever I come into a new situation. The sooner you understand the environment you are in, the sooner you can start adding to progress of the team in a way that everyone will enjoy.

    Another thing I would add is for you to try and do something new within the first few weeks. After you have a better understanding of the team you are working with, share and article or idea that someone might fight interesting.

    If you are going to own your career, you have to show others what you can bring to the table. Nobody is going to reach in your head and pull out what you know, so you should begin sharing some of your insights, without being a know it all.

  • Chuck Strouse says:

    Another great and timely post! I expect to have a job offer this week for a new job and this information and the book will be very valuable.

  • Cheska says:

    this is such a good read. thanks a lot for this. most of us change jobs a lot without even realizing why we are changing in the first place. this blog is a good way for us to stop, breathe and think first before jumping into a new job again. who knows maybe after improving our ways in communicating, we won’t need to change jobs that often. P.S. I suggest you also check out http://sn.im/103mkj – it’s a nice read about 10 steps to having a successful career change.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    Very nice, Chuck! Drop me a note if the offer comes through. You have done a great job in the interview process.

  • Scot Herrick says:

    Good points on the career change; a nice place to start. I harp quite a bit on the “you must know yourself” so you get the right types of work, so going into depth on those ten items will be needed.

    Thanks for leaving the comment; I really appreciate it!

  • >