Starting a new job? Here’s 5 ways to maximise your success

Starting a new job can be very stressful. Michel Watkins, author of “The First 90 Days” compares it to an organ transplant….where you’re the new organ.

It’s the point in your career where you’re at your most vulnerable. The territory is unfamiliar, expectations of what you can deliver are high and you haven’t yet established relationships.

The following checklist will help you integrate smoothly into your new environment, and allow you avoid the most common mistakes.

Establish your reputation quickly

To build credibility, it’s useful to get 2 or 3 small wins under your belt in the first quarter. This will position you as someone who can deliver results and will foster a winning spirit in your team. These wins should be things that fit into your longer term vision and crucially be areas that are seen as a priority for your boss.

Build a solid relationship with your boss

In the first few weeks of your new role, sit down with your boss to discuss expectations. Find out what they want you deliver, what success looks like to them and when they want you to deliver it by. To form a good relationship with them, work out what their preferred communication style. Do they like written reports or very informal catch ups? Do they prefer emails, face to face meetings or phone calls? Are they detailed oriented or prefer high level overviews? To build rapport and trust, it’s up to you to adapt to their style.

Identify whose support you need to succeed

As you become more senior in organisations, getting things done requires the support of those who are outside the scope of your direct authority. This is particularly true in matrix organisations where stakeholders may have a dotted reporting line into you. Your success will rest on your influencing skills and your ability to build alliances. It can be useful early on in your new role to identify whose support you’ll need to be successful and proactively reach out to them to build relationships.


Don’t assume that what made you successful to this point, will ensure your success in your new position. This can be a key challenge for new managers who are often promoted for their technical ability but lack the skills to effectively delegate. Learning to let go of having complete control takes time. Likewise, moving from being an expert in a field to managing a broader function requires upskilling. You need to avoid the temptation of spending too much time in your old area and to learn to get out of your comfort zone.

Culture and Politics

Each organisation has their own distinct culture and political landscape. Understanding these will help you more smoothly negotiate relationships allowing you be more nuanced in your approach. Spending time observing how people interact will reveal this landscape to you. How are decisions made? – in the boardroom or over the watercooler? Is individual or team performance more highly rewarded? How is challenging the status quo perceived?


Having a strategy for how you’ll approach your first few months in your new role will speed up your learning curve and ensure you spend your precious energy wisely. Reaching out to stakeholders and colleagues in your early days will lay the foundations for a solid network of alliances, building trust and giving you the best possible chance of success in your new position.

About the author

Laura McGrath is an Executive Coach with a background in executive search and career coaching. She has a post graduate qualification in Executive Coaching from the IMI and has been a guest lecturer with Trinity College Dublin and TU Dublin. For more information call 087 669 1192.

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