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Tory Johnson on New Job Success
Career-savvy expert Tory Johnson has the inside scoop on how to succeed at your new job. As founder and CEO of Women for Hire, she has dedicated her time to producing career expos and offering recruiting services that connect leading employers with professional women in all fields. Johnson is also the workplace contributor on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and the anchor of “Home Work,” a weekly program on ABC News Now, the digital channel. She writes a weekly column for Abcnews.com; is a business and career coach on AOL and a career expert for Yahoo! HotJobs. She has written many books on new-job success, including Women for Hire’s Get Ahead Guide to Career Success. Johnson shares her secrets to starting a new job successfully.
When starting a new job, what are the attitudes you should take to ensure success?
- Be confident in your abilities. Remember you were likely chosen from many other people. Yes, there are things you don’t know, but you were hired for a reason. You may not know the policies, protocol or every aspect of the business, but you can be confident in what you do bring, the skills and knowledge you have.
- Be a good listener. Don’t focus on doing all of the talking and sharing. Instead, be a learner and listener. During the “on-ramping” process, the first 30 to 90 days, find out what type of formal training is available to you. People think that training is a drag. But, if there is training available, accept it. It can save time and headaches by helping you learn about company policies and culture.
- Establish expectations for your first 30 to 90 days. Find out what your boss sees as success? If you think accomplishing xyz is great and your boss wants abc and xyz, then you’re not performing up to par. In the first week, talk with your boss about his or her expectations on what you should accomplish in the first 30 to 90 days. Don’t assume you know the definition of a good job. I can’t imagine any boss who would frown upon that type of communication. A lot of times people assume, “my boss will tell me.” If your boss doesn’t tell you, you need to be the one to ask those questions. Ask about not only the tangible goals, but also to pay attention to the intangibles—the work styles and protocols like these two: “What does everyone do at lunchtime?” and “How would you describe the culture?”
How should you engage your new colleagues in the first 30 days of your new job?
You have to walk in with thick skin. Keep in mind that the people you work with aren’t your chosen friends. They are your inherited co-workers. Not everyone will like you and you won’t like everyone else. It’s important to know that so you aren’t setting yourself up for disappointment. Of course, you’ll want to be well liked and that you’ll like your co-workers. But, it’s more important for you to be well respected than well liked.
You should also listen. Ask questions about the company’s style and culture. Be confident that you can separate personal from professional information. It’s important to avoid revealing too much about your personal life. Very quickly people will size you up, whether people are entry-level or senior-management. The information you share is critical. So, say something professional. The answer to “tell me about yourself” doesn’t have to be “I’ve been married three times.”
How can you begin to get a feeling for office politics in the first 30 days?
Typically you have to really try to understand. But, here your boss can help you pay attention to the cultural and personality cues. Try to realize there is going to be someone internally who wanted your job and has a chip on his shoulder or is jealous, suspicious or leery of you from the start. The level of the position and size of the company will make this easier or harder for you to deal with. So, to be successful in sensing your place in the office, it’s important to recognize that all these factors are in the air all the time. Communicate clearly and openly so you don’t create an atmosphere of passive aggression. If someone is standoffish or doesn’t introduce himself or herself, you should introduce yourself and say you are looking forward to a great professional relationship.
Do you have any tips on how you can get to know your co-workers in the first 30 days? Is it appropriate to invite anyone to lunch?
You can often take the lead from other people. They are just as curious about you as you are about them. It’s important to let it be known you are someone who wants to understand the protocol. You should participate in the culture. Go to the cafeteria or sandwich shop. You can easily accept invitations to lunch among your co-workers. You don’t necessarily have to be the one initiating those invitations. But, be approachable and appear to be someone interested in knowing your colleagues.
What are some of the top mistakes you can make in your first month on the job?
Revealing too much personally causes an indelible impression that’s hard to undo. Not focusing on fitting into the corporate culture is often a common mistake. Conforming and fitting in is crucial to the health of your relationships with your new co-workers. It’s also important to stay true to who you are. Let people know your knowledge and expertise. When you introduce yourself to them, let them know you’ll welcome their professional friendship and advice.
In the first 30 days how can you assure their boss he or she made the right decision in hiring you?
When you sit down with your boss, ask “what are your expectations?” Then, keep your boss informed. Tell [your boss], “I know the system and I’ve mastered the software. I’m ready for the next step.” When you do, you’re giving him or her permission to take you on to the next level. Otherwise, a lot of times [your boss] won’t know when you’ve come up to speed on your tools.
What is the belief you personally go to during times of change?
The desire to do the right thing guides how I deal with a change. The right thing isn’t always the easier or the more comfortable one. If you do the right thing at the end of the day, though, everything will work out A-OK.
The best thing about change is...
…the unexpected and potentially exciting challenges. When you make a change, you won’t always know what’s in store or what’s around the corner for you. But, it may be an exciting experience.
What is the best change you’ve ever made?
Personally, getting married and having kids. Professionally, changing from being an employee to employer, from working for the man to starting my own business.
For more information on Tory Johnson, visit www.womenforhire.com.