Think beyond your boss: making a good first impression

When starting a new job, we all know the importance of making a good first impression. But what’s the optimal window of time to do so before the opportunity is lost? In other words, how quickly does a boss and/or leadership make up their mind about a new employee? Unfortunately, there’s very little information out there on this topic.

To gain insight, we can turn to what we do know about new hires. Statistics show they make up their mind very quickly about an organization:

  • 22% of turnover within the first 45 days and 33% within the first 6 months*
  • One-third of employees knew whether they would stay with their company long-term after the first week*

It’s probably safe to assume coworkers and your immediate supervisor operate on a similar timeframe. But leadership can be more complicated. Sometimes the effectiveness of the boss to whom you report can influence how leadership views your potential as a long-term employee.

If you want to position yourself as a rising star within your new organization, I suggest you think beyond your immediate direct-report boss. You also want to impress people further up the chain of command. Here are 5 tips that you can implement to make a positive impression on leadership.

  • Identify 2-3 key leaders in your organization you can invite to lunch or a quick coffee break to better understand their role within the organization. Come prepared with 3-5 questions and pick their brains on topics such as where do they see opportunities for growth within the company, what’s been the biggest challenge for the agency over the last year, or what are some things that new hires in the same position as you did in the beginning that contributing to their success.
  • Create milestones. If your boss has not identified key milestones for your first 60-90 days, help them by outlining some of your thoughts. A great way to do this is to interview others in the same role as you and ask them what they think the most important milestones were when they started. Continue to identify milestones throughout your career and work towards completing them.
  • Share your success with your boss and leadership. When they ask how you are doing, don’t simply say “great”. This is your opportunity to grab 5 minutes of their time to tell them what you have been working on and what you have accomplished. And make sure you keep track of these successes so you can share them with HR during your annual review process.
  • Listen, then collaborate. Ask your boss and leadership what their greatest challenge is currently. Spend some time brainstorming around this challenge. Is there anything that you can do to help them solve it? If yes, propose your ideas and offer to help implement them.
  • Find a mentor. Is there someone else besides your boss who would be a good mentor for you? If yes, ask them if they will help act as your mentor for the next 90 days while you continue to get onboarded. Setup a weekly touch-base meeting with them and perhaps a monthly lunch. Use this time to talk through what is going well and what is not. Identify your biggest challenges, and then see if your mentor can help you brainstorm some proactive solutions or next steps that you can take to address your challenges.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to the leadership team or other leaders in your organization. They are valuable resources who are often underutilized and overlooked because employees perceive them to be too busy. But most leaders love to help rising stars and will make time for their team members.