When you start a new job, obviously you want to impress your co-workers and bosses so you'll thrive. Milo Sindell and Thuy Sindell, Ph.D., a husband-and-wife team of consultants for clients like Charles Schwab, Cisco Systems, Wells Fargo, and Yahoo!, are authors of a book called Sink or Swim (Adams Media, $14.95) and a website (www.hitthegroundrunning.com) that just might help.
Some excerpts from our recent conversation:
Q. Why do so many new hires wash out in their first year?
Milo: A big reason is that a huge percentage of new employees, including new managers, are not clearly told what they were hired to do or what their goals should be for the first six months and the first year.
Thuy: They also usually aren't told where to find information that they need, so they spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel - and their managers think they're idiots for wasting so much time and not asking colleagues or bosses for help.
Q. What are some "red flags" that might indicate you're in trouble in a new job?
Thuy: One is, if you don't know why you are doing something. If you don't know your goals or what success looks like, you can't succeed. Another red flag would be if you frequently find your mouth open. You need to listen at least five times as much as you talk.
Milo: It's a warning sign, too, if no one on your team comes up to you and tells you they're glad you're on the team. If you don't know what your team wants from you and how they want it, you haven't got a chance.
Q. Suppose there are people with hostile attitudes or petty turf concerns who are really hoping you'll fail at this job? How can you deal with that?
Milo: Three things. First, try to bring to the surface the reasons behind the attitude. Ask questions to understand what's really going on. Second, change the conversation. Focus on the goals of the group, team, or company.
Thuy: And third, rise above. If all else fails, you need to be the one who takes the higher road.
Q. Your book emphasizes the first 12 weeks in a new job as being the most crucial for laying a solid foundation. What is most important for someone just starting his or her first job out of college?
Thuy: Meet as many people as you can, and explore lots of different opportunities and areas of interest. Constantly look for chances to build your experience.
Milo: Make sure you deliver on every commitment that you make.