Establish Big Expectations
Everyone wants to get off on the right foot in a new job and there are two things you can do make that happen with your boss. Each is designed to align your words with your actions: Be on time and, state your intentions.
Be On Time
One of my favorite coaches started out our first season together with the statement “if you show up to practice on time, you’re 15 minutes late.” Showing up on time may not seem novel, but that first impression is indelible and it will lay the foundation for every other aspect of your performance. Plan on being the first person to arrive for every event or meeting that is on your schedule. One of the side benefits you’ll receive will come with the others who show up shortly after you do. They’ll become your closest peers and the relationships that follow are very often life-long. Once you have established this first impression, be bold and let them know your intentions.
State Your Intentions
Tom Brady was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2000. During his first training season, he walked up to Robert Kraft, the team’s owner and started to introduce himself. Kraft quickly cut him off and said “I know who you are, you’re Tom Brady, our 6th round draft pick. ” That line was meant to put him in his place. Brady looked him in the eye and said “Mr. Kraft, I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.” That was a bold statement for the 199th pick of the NFL draft, but it gave Kraft a clear expectation of Brady’s intentions.
You may not be comfortable being that bold, but you need to capture your boss’s attention by letting him or her know your own elevated intentions right up front. S/he will likely call you in for a meeting during your first days on the job, so make sure you prepare for this opportunity just like you did for the interview that got you the job. At the very least, have a question or two that won’t just show you’re interested, but that you’re committed to being the best who has ever held your new position. One of the easiest and most effective ways of doing that is by asking this simple question:
“If at the end of my first six months on the job, you were to write an evaluation that said I had exceeded your wildest expectations, what would I have done — what would I have accomplished?”
That line may not seem as bold as Tom Brady’s statement to his boss but it’s just as effective, easier to deliver, and it will also give you a clear understanding of their benchmark for exceptional performance. Asking that question will get you an elevated level of interest and a boss who will pay a little closer attention to your closure within his or her draft.
Once you have established your expectations with your boss, the next step is to aggressively learn your new job. I’ll be back in two weeks on an approach for that challenge from the cockpit.