Congrats on the new gig! The first few weeks of a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking, as you walk the delicate balance between learning a brand new work culture, getting to know your coworkers, understanding how your boss thinks, and proving what you can bring to the table.
It should come as no surprise that your boss is watching your performance during this time to see just how well you do work, and how well you'll fit with the team, but at times it may seem like you're being judged against an invisible rubric. Here are a few things your boss may be thinking – learning to understand these can help you turn those first few weeks into a success.
1. I want you to ask questions
No one expects you to step into your position without any orientation time. You're going to have questions about procedure, expectations, your job duties, office culture, and much, much more. Now is the time to ask them, no matter how stupid they may sound. Your boss would rather take a few minutes to explain things to you now than spend hours later correcting mistakes you made because you didn't ask.
2. I can't tell you everything
As a new hire, you need to ask questions and try to figure things out, but you also need to recognize that sometimes your boss can't tell you everything about the organization. Be respectful in what you're asking, pay attention to the boundaries your boss sets on information, and give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to decisions and processes that seem arbitrary and unfair at first.
3. I want you to be successful here
Unless your new boss is a complete sadist, she wants to see you succeed at your job. Communicate clearly with her about what her expectations are and how you can be sure to meet them – but remember that this communication doesn't have to be a one-way street. Be sure to let her know what you'll need to be successful in the position, too. (Without being a prima donna, of course!)
4. I want you to make me look good
If you want to be successful at your job, you need to help your boss be successful. Your work reflects back on your boss – particularly in these early days when he may be required to justify hiring you to those above him. Find out what goals your boss and your new team have, and use your skills to make sure you're an invaluable help in achieving those goals.
5. I want to hear your ideas…
You were chosen above other candidates not just because of your skill sets – your boss is also interested in your brain. While you definitely need to get the lay of the land before you come in with a blaze of ideas on how to fix things, your boss does want to hear your opinion. Be willing to make suggestions, but don't assume you know best – especially before you know the organization well.
6. …But I don't care how things were at your old job
Unless you were specifically hired to shake things up in your new organization, your boss doesn't care about how things were at your old job. Offer suggestions if you're asked, but avoid making comments about how your old organization handled things right off the bat. The way your boss has been doing things has worked this far, and offering unsolicited critiques and comparisons will put you off on the wrong foot right away.