It’s transfer season. So, you’re the newbie again and even those with nerves of steel would be forgiven for feeling a little jittery at the whole prospect of starting over but it’s time to remember why you were excited when you saw the initial job advert and what the trigger was for leaving your old business behind in the first place. It can be particularly challenging for those in HR because after all you’re supposed to be the people management and onboarding experts. Feeling nervous when your job involves inducting other new starters into their jobs or advising managers that have been there for as long as the business has been, is a strange space to inhabit so you need to shake off those first day nerves quickly and get to grips with your new challenges, colleagues and business strategy and, prove to the senior team that they were right in picking you for the role. Here’s some tips on how to get up to speed quickly.
Prepare for your new job
You would never have considered not preparing for your interview and your diligence has paid off with a great job offer, so don’t be tempted to take a back seat whilst the ink dries on the contract. Whilst the new employer may stipulate a specific starting date any preparation you can do to help speed up the time it takes to get to grips with the challenges and requirements of your new job can only be beneficial. Schedule in a meeting ahead of the start date to run through your key responsibilities, performance indicators and job challenges. Arrange for IT to set you up with your email account and work security so that it is working from day one or ideally before that.
If you have direct reports, arrange to meet with them before your first day so you can clarify their job roles and get to know them – take time to make them feel comfortable enough to discuss any challenges that they are facing. Absorb all the relevant company literature from profit and annual revenue data, to key history and organisational charts – take note of everyone and their title and what they do at the business. Study the current business strategy and consider how HR is helping to shape and drive it forward.
Invest time in getting to know people
This may seem obvious but never overlook the importance of really getting to know all the key stakeholders that will be part of your daily life in your new job, from your direct boss, to your colleagues in HR and other departments as well as any direct reports. Taking time to form good relationships is a good way of earning acceptance at work. Whilst you might be keen to get home at the end of the day, it’s always good practice to accept early invitations to work drinks or socials as a means of furthering those relationships and getting to know everyone. You are an important member of the HR team so you also need to make sure that you make a great effort with everyone you meet within the organisation as you will need to quickly cement the impression with both employees and managers that you are approachable, trustworthy and able to deploy your HR skills to help in any people management scenario that might strike in the first few weeks.
Whilst you may not yet have the in-house experience to really understand the business at this early stage, you can fill your internal customers with confidence that you have handled similar situations before and have a range of transferrable skills that equips you with the necessary experience to handle any HR situation. You will need to evaluate just how much consultation and feedback your clients would like. A good tip is to ask from the outset what they feel comfortable with. Keep a dialogue going with employees to find out what support from HR they are looking for – it might be that they are happy with the status quo but be prepared that they are looking for more from the HR department and whilst it maybe tempting to criticise the way HR is being run, turn the feedback you receive into a positive means of gaining support for further dialogue with employees to improve things.
Try to absorb cultural norms quickly too from how decisions are made to the importance of seniority and the attitude towards being flexible and approachable vs traditional and process-orientated. Whilst you are looking to make your HR impression try to conform to the standards that are in place before you turn it on its head, if that is your plan! Listening is an essential skill to demonstrate in the early weeks of your new HR job and if it’s an entry level HR role that you have just started then demonstrating that you are keen to get to know the business and turn your hand to a range of tasks is a great way to show you are willing to get stuck in before you start making demands for training.
With all the best intentions in the world, it takes time to get up to speed with a new business and you may also have taken on a more senior position then you previously held. Be realistic when you set your goals with your new boss as to what you can achieve, it’s always preferable to go steady with the promises and then impress by over delivering. It is much more difficult to unpick things when you have promised the earth and then can’t fulfil it. Set expectations early with your new colleagues too, don’t be tempted to stay long hours for the first few weeks in an attempt to outstay the boss, the chances are that it’s not sustainable, so start day one on the right foot by setting in stone your working routine.
Ask for help
It’s noble to try and hit the ground running from the start and turn down any offers of help. Everyone wants to create the impression that they own their job and know the exact intricacies of what is expected of them but when the job is new to you, this doesn’t apply. You need all the help and support you can get to ensure you can be a star performer in time. Getting to grips with your new job will mean creating a positive dialogue with all the key people that are involved in it; talk as much as you need to and don’t be worried about asking for additional clarification or written guidance on best practice or ways of doing things. Your new boss may even be impressed that you feel confident enough to reach out for further assistance.
Gain some early wins
Whilst you are busy absorbing the new culture of the business, gaining supporters and building key relationships don’t take your eye off the job in hand. You may feel that you have been walking on egg shells for the first few weeks and have been keen not to upset or make enemies by being outspoken or overly critical but you must remember that you also need to balance this with demonstrating you can not only do the job but make some positive changes. There is a point when you may need to stand out from the crowd and speak up but do so in a considered fashion whilst ensuring you have all the evidence for why the change is needed as well as having an outline of a plan to hand of how to make the new idea operational. If you can make some small changes first that don’t blow any budgets, then you are more likely to get buy in for some bigger plans further down the line.
Focus on why you have been taken on board, the purpose of the company and your role and level of seniority in the HR team. Keep referring to the early objectives that you set out with your boss and if you feel like you are being side-lined or derailed from the job in hand, take action to keep it back on track. You have ultimate responsibility for your job and your career so if you feel it isn’t quite where it needs to be then you need to be bold enough to make sure your new job doesn’t wind up as the blip in your CV you’d rather not talk about.
By Annie Hayes, HR freelance writer and expert.
Global Lingo supports Human Resource departments during grievance and disciplinary meetings and business restructurings. Working with Financial Institutions, Intergovernmental organisations and global Companies we provide specialist Minute-Takers for on-site or remote attendance delivering a detailed and accurate account of confidential and sensitive meetings.