How to make the right impression

After spending a few years in a job, moving on can be intimidating. Here’s how to go about it 

A survey conducted in November by Accenture, a management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, found that only 33% of the Indian respondents were satisfied with their current job, while 38% were looking for newer opportunities within the company as well as outside. The reasons included lack of job satisfaction, no growth opportunities, being underpaid, long hours and heavy workload. The survey, “#ListenLearnLead”, included 3,600 business professionals across 30 countries.

In another survey, six out of 10 employees said they would consider a job change in the next 12 months. The survey, “HR Game Changers 2015”, was conducted by human resource (HR) services provider Randstad India, which surveyed 1,000 employees in India and around 7,000 in the Asia-Pacific region. The sectors that are most likely to see these shifts include e-commerce ventures, pharmaceutical and consumer goods companies and information technology (IT) firms. Career growth and advancement were the biggest motivators, according to the survey, which was conducted in December.

With 950,000 new jobs expected to be created in 2015, according to a survey by recruitment platform MyHiringClub, the job market seems lively this year and a good time for those looking for a change. Exciting though the idea of a new workplace and job may sound, being in one can be overwhelming, especially if your previous stint has been a long one. A change involves adapting to a new routine and colleagues, and the pressure to secure your position and carve a niche.

“The initial months are critical to shaping the opinions of your boss and colleagues about your potential as a professional, as well as defining your working relationships in the new company,” says Gurgaon-based Sameer Wadhawan, vice-president, HR, at beverage maker Coca-Cola India and South-West Asia.

“Failing to adapt to a firm’s corporate culture and not asking enough questions are two of the biggest mistakes new employees make,” says Mumbai-based Ajay Bhatt, regional HR director at pharmaceutical company Abbott India Ltd.

We asked the HR heads of various companies what one should keep in mind in a new job to make the right impression.

Leave the baggage behind

When an employee joins an organization, it is natural to make comparisons with the previous firm in terms of work culture. “While there may be a thousand things that were better at your old job, always remember the changes you want to see in your career and how your new job will help you achieve those,” says New Delhi-based Sunil Goel, managing director at executive search firm GlobalHunt India Pvt. Ltd. Wadhawan advises employees not to brag about their experiences and be open to a new work culture: “A new employee should first try and adapt to the company’s policies and culture. Once the trust is built, then share the constructive experiences from the previous job that can help the present company.”

It is important to understand the new companies’ work culture. Bhatt says: “This is not restricted to knowing the timing, the dress code, etc. It also encompasses the ethics, about being aware about factors like the male-female ratio in the company, the cultural diversity, and what kind of jokes are acceptable in the company.”

Gurgaon-based Vidhi Gulati, HR head, Fabfurnish.com, an online home store, says: “Keep an open mind and process all the inflow of information step by step. Believing in the brand, its processes and vision is important.”

30-60-90 plan

When you are new in a company, keep the larger goal in mind but work to a 30-60-90-day plan, says Bhatt. “In the first 30 days, the new employee should understand the working culture of the company and the professional targets that are expected from him or her. After 60 days, he or she should be well aware about his place in the organization and should have achieved the initial goals. Within 90 days, the employee is expected to be fully versed with the entire system and should be on his/her way to achieve the bigger targets that the company expects,” adds Bhatt.

Goel says an employee should hit the ground running. “A new employee should have a must to-do list and a should to-do list, where in the must to-do list should be about the professional goals such as achieving a sales target; the should to-do list should be the ways in which he or she should approach the new colleagues and try and communicate with them,” he says.

Delivering as soon as you join becomes even more critical as the workplace culture is shifting with more start-ups being launched and you are expected to hit the ground running because of small teams. New-Delhi based Puneet Rathi, head advisory and knowledge, Society for Human Resource Management India, an association dedicated to HR management, suggests that the ideal way to go about it is to ask about goals and expectations at the hiring stage. “It’s a competitive environment and an employee should always be ahead from the beginning. Everybody likes a proactive worker,” says Rathi. “You will understand the culture as you go along,” he adds.

Know your boss

More often than not, an employee is given a basic idea of the hierarchical structure of the company on joining. Wadhawan says a new employee should make a constant effort to know his or her reporting managers, their style of working and their expectations before becoming familiar with the hierarchy of the rest of the company. “New employees should seek regular meetings with their boss and discuss their future plans with him/her. He or she should also ask for regular feedback and make efforts to understand the manager’s style of working,” says Wadhawan. “It establishes a clear working relationship from the very beginning.”

Understand the process

As in any new job, the information you receive in the initial months can be both overwhelming and difficult to comprehend. The information could range from company policies and processes to information related to its employees. So try and understand the smallest process first. “It is very important to understand the processes behind the company’s functions and then start working on them. Understanding the entire company requires a step-by-step approach,” says Wadhawan.

One of the biggest mistakes new employees make is that they don’t ask questions, says Bhatt. “If you ask questions, it gives the impression that you are open and willing to learn more and are also confident about accepting your shortcomings,” he adds.

Goel says: “Joining a new job gives you an opportunity to retrospect about the goals that you wanted to achieve but could not. The future belongs to people who are willing to adapt and learn.”