A dear friend of mine is about to leave her job. She’s taken a great new position, resigned her current job with class, integrity (and notice), and is excited to move into a new phase in her life. Her emotions right now are very mixed, understandably.
The job she’s holding today and all of next week has been her home for the past 12 years. She’s 33, by the way, so that’s more than 1/3 of her life. She’s grown up, literally and figuratively, with this company. She started out as a payroll clerk, moved into an HR position, worked her way through school and her PHR, and eventually became the HR Manager. This company has seen her become an aunt, a great aunt, and get married. She’s had many friends and mentors there, has tons of funny stories, and a few events and people she’d like to forget. (Don’t we all after we’ve worked somewhere more than 6 months?)
Her new position will have her coming in as the boss. Her last position enabled her to watch others and see what was expected before she became the boss. That opportunity will not be the same here. Here she’s the HR head honcho from Day 1. She’s very excited. This job is in a new industry, has great pay and benefits, and will be intellectually challenging from the sheer breaking of patterns she established at her old office. See former post about zombies. It was time for her to be killed.
She’s also very nervous. She hasn’t had a “first day on the job” in 12 years! She asked me for advice and since I’ve had a few jobs in the past 12 years, I thought I could pretty easily come up with some stuff. Then I realized that I’ve always come in as an underling, not the boss. My first day at my current/new job was probably sitting in front of my laptop in my jammies, so it doesn’t really apply. I do have a few words of advice that I think are universal, but otherwise I took to Twitter for suggestions and got some gold. I’ll share that here also.
One thing we know is certain – she doesn’t need to march in like Caesar conquering Rome. We all know that ended badly!
My advice to my friend:
Do not bring your lunch the first week. This is how I would like to see your first week of lunches go. Monday – your boss should take you to lunch. If they don’t, call me. Tuesday – you take your two assistants to lunch if it’s ok for all of you to be gone at the same time. Be friendly and social and do not discuss work stuff. Find out if they have kids, pets, parents, etc. This is the being nice phase. It may not last long, so enjoy it while you can. Wednesday – take Minion 1 out and talk shop. Thursday – take Minion 2 out and talk shop. Friday – have lunch with me (and maybe our mutual atty friend if he’s available) and tell me everything, my treat. I know buying lunch for yourself and other people 3 days in a row will not be super cheap, but it doesn’t have to be super expensive either and you can really get to know people when they are relaxed and out of the office.
Minions love food.
Carry a notebook/pen with you EVERYWHERE. Every time you hear a tidbit, a name, a position, a potential problem, a potential solution…write it down. Don’t jump in and immediately fix anything yet, just write it down.
Don’t bring all your office décor in at once on the first day. Don’t be like, “I’m here and I’m taking over. Clear a path.” Will the previous HR Manager be there to train you at all or are you coming in totally alone? I forgot to ask. Esp if he/she is still there, don’t bring stuff. That’s tacky. Even if they aren’t, just bring a few things each day that first week or two. A) Bringing everything at once looks pushy. B) You need to feel out the new space first before you start throwing crap on the walls, etc.
The red Swingline stapler, however, has to come with you IMMEDIATELY. This is non-negotiable. If this is still someone else’s office for a while, just keep it in your purse for luck.
Be friendly, but on guard, esp outside your own department. Listen 80% and speak 20%. This is a new and fresh start. You can be a whole new person here. You may get overwhelmed with being nice and friendly and laughing and then accidentally tell someone the story of that time when you did ______. That story cannot be unheard. You don’t know who to trust yet. No politics, no religion…abortion is off the table, any story that took place while drunk, your gambling addiction/meth lab – hide all of that. Not saying don’t be yourself; just be yourself-lite. And seriously, don’t talk too much. Better to be thought shy and aloof at first and then gradually come out of your shell than stick your foot in your mouth by accident. They’ll get to know you and see you aren’t shy or aloof and are wonderful, in time. (And yes, I was obviously kidding about the gambling addiction and meth lab. Not about that time she did _____ though. That was real.)
Now that I’ve put in my 2 cents, let’s check out some of the advice from the Twitterverse, shall we?
The blog & book links from above are:
Danyel’s – http://thetalentpoolhr.blogspot.com/
Jenn’s – http://www.thedailymuse.com/career/3-ways-to-kick-off-your-new-job-the-right-way/
Sarah’s – http://www.amazon.com/What-When-You-Become-Boss/dp/1432714287
PS – My last bit of advice is to get yourself a semi-professional Twitter account very soon. Put your name on it, own your credentials, and participate in the HR community on Twitter. It has been a lifesaver for me. I now have friends all across the globe who help me when I have questions, laugh with me about mistakes, and encourage me when I’m down. I learn from their blogs and tweets. They answer me when I have questions and are just fun and friendly when I don’t. The community is HUGE but the variety is amazing. (As an aside, when the Zombie Apocalypse occurs, I already have a survival team put together consisting of myself, 2 guys from England, a lady in Canada, and another lady in NYC.)
As a further example, in the above pics…Donald and Shannon are in Baton Rouge. Jim is in Amarillo, TX. Danyel is in Raleigh. Jennifer is in the Bay Area of California. Gemma is in Leeds, England and Sarah is an Aussie ex-pat now living in Singapore! And they all reached out within a few hours to help me help you. It’s a very supportive community and you’ll fit in seamlessly.
As much as it’s an excellent professional resource (I can name you 100 people similar to our idol, Ask A Manager, off the top of my head), it’s also not a stiff and fussy “always on” networking crowd. I can name you 25 off the top of my head who drink and swear regularly, cuss all day on Sundays during football season, or soccer, and freely admit to hating some of their employees or the whole of HR sometimes. It’s a wonderful resource when you need professional guidance and also when you need to let loose a bit. As much as I know they can help you, I know that your intelligence and expertise would benefit the community as well. We’d love to have you.
I know you asked for this post, and I hope it’s helped a little. I think you helped me more than anything though. I needed a good topic for today and I can’t imagine someone with your skills and personality not hitting it off at this new job instantly. So thank you for the post idea, disguised as helping you. Much appreciated! XOXOX
Did I miss anything? Anyone else have additional advice? Hit us up in the comments!