How to Take the First 90 Days of Your New Job to the Next Level

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Ryan Kay Star

Ryan Kay

ryank@refer.io

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Jun 15, 2021

Being a new employee means people don't know what to expect from you. Here is a surefire way to give them a run for their money.

In part one of my post, titled "How to Rock the First 90 Days at Your New Job," I discussed 10 steps to help you get up to speed as quickly as possible at your new job.

In today's blog post, we are going to talk about ten things you can do to really set yourself apart--taking your new hire performance to the next level.

A word of caution: DO NOT underestimate the power of what you are about to read. Some of this advice may even seem familiar, but you'd be surprised how many people do not apply this counsel on the job.

I've found that employees who apply this knowledge--especially during their first 90 days of employment--don't only launch themselves off to being successful at work, they soar!

Now for the good stuff.

1. Identify your strengths & create opportunities to leverage them

Welcome to Self-Knowledge 101. Today's instructor, Ryan Kay.

If you were lucky, back in school they had you take some aptitude tests, and maybe even helped you identify what you liked doing and are naturally good at. Somewhere along the way, many of us lose touch (or never really had it to begin) with our innate strengths and inborn abilities.

I'm here to tell you that there is good news, not only do these things still exist inside of you, they are actually the key to doing your job well. You are unique, unlike any other human being on this planet. No matter how much genetic code you have in common with another person, you still have a special stamp to put on everything you do.

Being able to identify what yours is, and more importantly--leveraging it, is not only going to help you find success now, but it will carry you to where you ultimately want to go!

Tools like the Reflected Best Self Exercise and StrengthsFinder2.0, among others, can help you identify your core strengths and abilities. They can also suggest ways to intelligently bring them to the table in your work and life. Once you've identified your strengths, and come up with ways to apply them across the board, you will find that much of the other advice you are about to read will then naturally follow/flow for you. The reason why--because people who create a way to use their strengths at work are more satisfied overall at their jobs, which means they do a better job at their job. Funny how that works.

2. Keep it positive

We've all worked with negative Neds and complaining Cathys. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that people are happiest at work around happy, positive people. Even if the meeting, or day, or project isn't going as planned, try (when appropriate) to use humor to help relieve your own stress and that of those around you.

Reframing, a tool used to look at a situation or problem through different lenses, can be a very helpful way to uncover the lessons learned, or see what can be gained from an experience that hasn't gone as hoped or expected.

Back in college, we were taught about something called "Deep Acting." They said that for those who work in service-related fields, there is a certain level of "acting" that a person must do everyday.

For some people, this "faking it" process leads to burn out if it is too surface level, but if a person can dig deep, and figure out how to really feel that way, they are Deep Acting--which actually helps ward off burn out. Practicing Deep Acting helps create positive environments and atmospheres because emotions are coming from a real place.

There is definitely something to be said about "fake it till you make it."

3. Learn names

What is one word people love to hear more than any other? Their name! Books on how to succeed have highlighted this simple, yet effective tool for gaining likability.

An exercise that I've done with groups of people over time has been how to learn names. When someone introduces themself, you must immediately associate something specific about them with their name. Smiley Sarah, dancing Dannice, baseball Ben, green-eyed Greg, mathematical Matt. The association can really be anything, but it needs to be a memorable que for you that will help you remember them and their name.

Then, when you see and associate with that person, use their name. No need to go overkill, but saying their name when you address them or ask them a question can go a long way. For one, it will subconsciously build respect and trust.

4. Look the part

I've worked in a variety of environments. Some had very relaxed dress codes. On the other side of the pond, some employers expected us employees to wear a suit coat and have polished closed toe shoes (no matter our gender) for every meeting.

Learn the policy, then stick to it. Dress and appearance is an easy area to become too relaxed, but honestly, dressing the part speaks volumes about what kind of employee you are.

When a boss knows that you will be wearing clean, pressed attire and will show up well groomed (no matter what day of the week) they associate this with attention to detail-- translating into a feeling of trust for you. If you are the kind of employee that likes to take little liberties here and there (especially with something that may seem "small," such as what you wear to the office), in the long run, it will reflect negatively on your character.

5. Help others along the way

Different cultures have different perspectives on what it means to be successful. Some people come from (or were raised in) a collectivist culture, others of us, a more individualistic society.

Frequently, people believe that their success and recognition is one of the most important things they can work towards in their careers, but no true success is achieved alone. Just as my success has depended on others and what they've taught me, so does yours. As a result, the only true way to gain success is by sharing what knowledge and assistance you can with others along the way.

Start viewing your success in terms of your ability to help others be successful along with you. In a workplace environment, you will notice a form of synergy that will be created as a result of actively looking for opportunities to help those around you--while you help yourself. Yes, protect your own ideas, but don't be protective of your ability to help others be successful along with you.

6. Thank your people

This is something so small, that you may even think I'm being cheesy, but showing appreciation has a profound effect upon people. When someone takes the time to teach you something or help you with a project--thank them. It really is that simple.

What I've noticed over the years is that expressing the gratitude I feel for people helps them want to help me more. That may sound like a selfish motive, but the truth is we all benefit. They also learn that I'm willing to help them along the way too!

7. Give credit where credit is due

Have you ever experienced what it feels like to have someone take credit for your hard work? What about the opposite; have you been in a situation where someone was about to get the credit for your work and then quickly clarified that it wasn't them, but you--who did the heavy lifting?

There is a totally different feeling and work dynamic created when someone is wise enough to give the glory to those that created something successful and gives the praise where it is rightfully due. Be that kind of person! It will build trust in a way that no other kind of praise and affirmation can.

8. Set boundaries early on

Yes, you are there to do a great job, but you can only do that if you set clear boundaries. Trying to take on too much, or being the pushover that has to get to work first and leave last leads to burn out--which ultimately is the key to being unsuccessful at your job. So, depending on your goals, you can pick what advice out there you want to take, but I'm going to tell you that sacrificing your mental, physical, and emotional well-being (not to mention your relationships) for your new job just isn't worth it.

Right out of college I was in a long-term training process for a highly competitive career path. Early on in our training they had a conversation with us about not making our work all consuming. They expressed to us that the best employees were those who had and worked on other interests outside of the office.

Early on in a job, you will be able to gain a pretty clear picture about what type of work/life balance "these people" (the organization, your new employer) value and believe is important. Ultimately, only your health and well-being can sustain your ability as an employee. Have a real conversation with yourself about what healthy boundaries at work means for you personally. Then draw that line in the sand, and don't cross it or look back.

Important note, when you set these boundaries is just as important as what boundaries you set.

Setting boundaries needs to be done early on. You are setting a precedent for yourself and your employer about what you will and won't do. So if it was clearly contracted that you will only work every other Friday, don't feel pressured to make exceptions to terms that were already agreed up when you were hired (and so on and so forth).

9. Know when to get lost in the details

Some projects and responsibilities will never get done if you get overly focused on the details. Other projects can cost your company $$$ if you neglect to spend the necessary time on the finer points.

Knowing the difference is key.

Perfectionism is real; so is laziness. What your new job is (and which tasks you are responsible for) determines what level of detail-orientation is needed.

I once heard an example in the business world of two employees that were both up for promotion. The boss gave both employees the same task to perform. The first did the task as quickly as he could, while the second ended up spending an additional 15 minutes--and was offered the promotion.

When the first asked why he didn't receive the promotion--thinking his efficiency should have been the deciding factor--the boss responded back that he hadn't asked any clarifying questions about important details. Those details ultimately determined why the second employee took longer to do the same task but met the needs of the task with far greater accuracy.

In many cases, what will set you apart from others in the workplace--will be in the details.

10. Remember that you are on a journey and that this is a stepping stone

In conclusion, it is important to remember why you are doing what you are doing. Such a large portion of our waking lives are spent at work. I'm here to tell you that no job will fulfill every aspect of you, but there is such a thing as satisfying work that is meaningful and provides.

Perhaps what you are currently doing doesn't yet feel that way, but know that this is a means to an end. If you know where you are trying to go, remember that there are many steps along the way. A journey of a thousand miles really does begin with one, just one, step.

Plan out where you want to go, use the advice you receive along the way, and one day, you will look around and realize--you are there! Until that day, I'm here to cheer you on in your journey!

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