Maximizing Your Orientation Period

When seeking a new position, we typically gather resources and tips on resumes, interviewing, and negotiating. However, once you land the big job, what about making the most out of your orientation period? Unfortunately, this critical time is often underestimated. As a result, orientation periods can be turbulent. Why? We are unprepared with so many unknowns, and it creates anxiety. Luckily, we have insight into combatting orientation turbulence. So swipe to airplane mode, you are about to learn how to maximize your orientation period and showcase the superhero they hired.

Overcoming Anxiety

It is normal to have new job jitters. Still, for an orientation to be effective, you must move beyond anxiety, understand your role and expectations, and develop a professional network of trust. Uncertainty can give us stress, which leads to unproductivity. But we can psychologically convince ourselves that it’s excitement. Even better, our inclination, as newcomers, is to fill in the gaps of uncertainty for peace of mind.

Excitement helps us feel better, improves performance, and heightens others' personas of us. Stop anxiety by acknowledging that you pursued the position and were selected. Reaffirmation helps reframe your mindset to an exciting opportunity. So when you are feeling the anxiety, say “I’m excited” several times. The psychological effects help convince us that we are excited.

Acclimation

So you got a handle on your jitters and want to showcase the new-hire superhero your new company is expecting. Tread lightly, a superhero and the annoying know it all are usually opposing forces. Ever have a passenger kicking or shoving at the back of your seat. Exactly! So don’t be the one that says, we should do X, because that’s how it was done at my last job. Instead, an excellent way to acclimate is to use the first 90 days to be a good listener and ask relevant questions. Improve your understanding of your position, expectations, how it ties in, where, and how to apply yourself. Engage your manager(s) and discuss performance-based best practices to gauge your goals, priorities, and expectations. Engagements should be ongoing touchpoints and 1:1 meetings for continued communication, performance-based feedback, and growth. Be proactive about scheduling consistent checkpoints with your peers and manager, as 89% of HR Managers agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are essential for successful outcomes.

Team Rapport and Professional Networks

Online research is a beautiful thing when it comes to orienting yourself to the new work culture, environment, and colleagues. In advance, do a social media audit of the company’s Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or other social media. Knowledge about activities, such as philanthropy or team-building events, is a great way to start conversations. Start getting to know your colleagues early-on and enough for them to see you as an individual with skills you bring as a person. Build camaraderie, get to know each other at a personal level, but avoid a nosey-personal level. Check out Del Carnegie for insight on starting good conversations and more resources. Continually developing strategic relationships helps build your network, career, and further assists with:

  • Understanding how and where you fit
  • Connecting outside your immediate team, division, and management
  • Others seeing you in a positive light
  • Inclusion to broader conversations for insight on strategic topics such as pain points, addressing business problems, and departmental direction

Virtual Work Environments

The start of a new position is challenging enough; a virtual or work from home (WFH) environment makes orientation even more challenging and poses additional problems. Don’t let WFH put a damper on matters. Our success requires having strong relationships with others, and we have to make the social investment. Try the following tips to keep you on track:

  • Have a plan and schedule for relationship-building time
  • Use video communication tools like MS Teams, Skype, and Zoom
  • Be sensitive to your new teammates’ communication preferences, i.e., phone, email, IM, MS Teams
  • Be intentional and proactive about team rapport; reach out for interest in virtual meet-ups, coffee themes, lunch, happy hour, or activities such as Jackbox Games and virtual bingo once a week
    • Share something about yourself to engage others: ask about hobbies; it’s a good ice-breaker
    • Follow up with attendees, and those unable to attend, as it helps with continued bond-building
    • Keep invitations open; folks might make the next activity
  • Be engaged, communicate your daily and weekly work activities and summaries, take notes to help with team discussions: 'I noticed X, can you help me understand this?'
  • Be professional when speaking to colleagues
  • Stick with the plan, try to be consistent, and ALWAYS be respectful of others' schedules

It’s a lot to squeeze in. Are you still wondering about superhero time? In theory, you have been a superhero from the start. You have learned about overcoming anxiety, acclimating, building a professional network of trust, and more. Combined, it makes your orientation period productive. It’s been a pretty full day! Put your cape away or tilt your tray and chair up and prepare for landing. Enjoy your evening, and get some rest so you can do it again tomorrow!