If you are starting a new job remotely – at a new company or as an internal transfer within your existing company – there are several things you need to be aware of, understand, and master to hit the ground running.
Consider this guide your launch plan. This document is designed to give you the information and tools you need to learn about your new role and get familiar with your new role. You can consider this guide a starting point to your learning journey and to impressing your new peers and management with your curiosity, bias towards action, and aptitude.
Your first few weeks (let’s say 90 days) provide a rare opportunity to focus on learning more about your team’s goals, key internal and external stakeholders, and how these people and work-flows align with the value you will be expected to bring to the table after you are fully onboarded.
Step 1: Have confidence in yourself. You were hired for a reason. Take a breath and celebrate your superpowers. You are smart, capable, and valuable. Onboarding can be challenging during the best of times. But doing remote onboarding is uniquely challenging. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and to struggle. You will get through this. Give yourself the space to recognize this fact: you will onboard successfully.
Step 2: Identify or ask for an onboarding friend or buddy. Yes, you read that correctly. Ask your new manager or company to assign a non-managerial stakeholder to meet with you, answer your questions, discuss things in a no-pruressure environment, and to help you. Having a non-managerial buddy is hugely helpful. Treat this person as the Mr. or Ms. Go To. Develop a relationship with this person and let them help you learn the ropes. Set up time to speak with that buddy every week for your first 6-8 weeks. Spend 20-30 minutes speaking with your buddy and asking questions. Take notes, listen carefully, and ask for clarification when you are confused.
Step 3: Set up a timeline for your onboarding success and share it with others. Ensure that this timeline syncs with what your management believes is the right amount of time. Here is an example checklist that you can use to drive this step forward:
|Day 1||Register for Virtual Orientation|
Learn about security
Create new hire profile
|Get login to IT|
Register for Payroll
E-mail your buddy
Say hi to your boss
|Week 1||Learn how about HR and security policies|
Read your new company’s website
|See what the media and customers are saying about your company|
Sign up for industry specific newsletters
|Week 2||Does your firm have guiding principles? Learn themWatch Youtube Videos about your company|
Start using your company’s products
|Enroll in health benefits|
Update your LinkedIn
Read shareholder letters
Set up internal software accounts on your SMB server or Enterprise tech
Create relevant accounts
|Week 5||Meet bi-weekly with your buddy|
Start reaching out to your peers and teammates
Schedule a recurring 1:1 with your new boss
Ensure that your home office works for you
|Complete formalized trainings or exams that your firm wants you to complete|
Read and watch as much content as you can about your firm and team
Install things that make you happy and productive – such as a full desk mouse pad or curved computer monitor so that you can do you best work
|Week 6||Meet with your manager’s manager for your first skip level|
Complete Diversity and Inclusion HR trainings
|Express gratitude for role and first positive impressions|
Write down what you think your team does well and areas for improvement
|Week 8||Own your first project or body of work|
Understand what you are building and why
|Demonstate a bias towards action at the Month 2 mark|
Own a body of work and start working with internal and external stakeholders to drive it forward
|Week 12||You have met all relevant internal stakeholdersYou are on all of your team’s callsYou have a bi-weekly or weekly meeting on the books with your boss and relevant peers|
Understand the basics of career management at your firm (i.e. how will you get promoted?)
Learn about compensation
|Submit future employees|
Share on LinkedIn that your team or company is hiring
Do you have any former colleagues that you think are incredible?
Who is the most impressive professional you know in your industry or city?
Step 4: Show a bias towards action. In the renowned business book “The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels” Harvard Professor Michael Watkins argues that showing a bias towards action is critical to creating a positive first impression. First impressions are everything and your attitude, how you present yourself, and the work-ethic you demonstrate will set the underpinnings of all your future success (or failutures).
To demonstrate bias towards action, recognize the following:
- Speed matters in business. Learn quickly, read quickly, and probe ideas quickly. If you don’t have reliable internet, solve that problem with either a wifi card or gigabit router.
- Many decisions and actions in your first 90 days are reversible and do not need extensive study. Don’t be fearful to roll up your sleeves. I once saw a sales new hire start making phone calls to clients 90 minutes after he started. He didn’t know the product, how it worked, or what it cost. He didn’t care. He figured he could learn all those things. His bias towards action blew the CEO away and we all still remember his actions.
Step 5: Earn Trust. By showing a bias towards action, having a schedule, leveraging a buddy, and having confidence in yourself you can start to earn trust with other internal stakeholders.
When Daniel Ek founded Spotify, he did what no disruptor had done before: He worked with the industry he was trying to reinvent to earn the trust of musicians who made the music he wanted to stream. Elk noted that trust is formulaic and he defined it as: consistent behavior multiplied times time.
That’s it: if you behave in the same manager for a long time, people will trust that that is your behavior. But how can you accelerate the process by which trust is earned? Afterall, you don’t have years to cultivate trust and want to get out of the gates fast.
Here are some practical steps you can take:
- Listen attentively, speak candidly, and treat others respectfully. If you treat people well they will trust you faster and more deeply.
- Be empathetic. It’s ok to not know an answer. Say so directly and upfront. Ask for help.
- Be a self-starter. Exhaust documentation or resources that you can read, watch, or listen to before escalating to others. This will help them trust that you went as far as you could before asking for guidance.
- Benchmark yourself against the best. Have Backbone. Disagree when you believe that your insights or the data leads to a different conclusion. You were hired because you have skills the company values. Bring those skills to the forefront to earn trust.
Step 6: Deliver Results. The final process of onboarding is delivering your first business impact. You were hired to add value. Even as a new member of the team, focus on the key inputs for your business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Even if the results are small, ensure that they align with the needs and future goals of your management and team.
Bringing It All Together: What you need to know (and do right) to succeed.
This article brings together simple, powerful, and actionable steps that you can take to succeed in your new remote job. Every role and function are different, so adapt as needed. Be sure to have confidence that you will succeed, because thinking big is a self fulfilling prophecy. Get a friend who can help you and call this person often for guidance. Make a plan that is attainable and clearly structured around dates and time. Earn trust by being genuine and predictable and helpful. Lastly, start to deliver results. Communicate these results to your buddy, your peers, and your management. It will cement their reasoning for bringing you on-board in the first place and will celebrate the progress you have made from Day 1.