Whether you are moving to a new role within the same company, or taking on a new job somewhere else, try the three things outlined below. Following this advice, you will surely make a positive first impression on your new boss and will achieve a more organized and efficient transition.
Two Weeks before Your Start Date
Send your new boss an email (you should have already obtained his or her email address during your interview, for sending a thank-you note after the interview), tell him or her that: 1) You are very excited about starting in two weeks; 2) You would like to get a head-start if possible – ask him or her if there’s any material he or she could send along in the meantime for you to read or work on, or anyone he or she would recommend you to meet and talk to. Say that you want to get yourself familiarized with the projects that you will be working on to make the transition as efficient as possible.
DON’T STRESS! More likely than not, your new boss will tell you to NOT worry about it. He or she will say so because: 1) they want to be fair (since you are not being paid yet); 2) they will want to steer clear from any potential HR or legal issues. You are not an employee yet; you haven’t signed any Non-disclosure Agreement (NDA) or Non-compete Agreement yet. Releasing any specific data or information to you could be deemed as “reckless”, whereas you will not really be able to do any “real” work remotely anyway right now. Therefore, in most cases, your boss’s answer to your email would be a “No, thank you”.
However, your new boss is absolutely going to appreciate your drive, and will be impressed by how proactive you are, as not many people reach out like this before their start date. You are earning extra points on “work ethic”.
What if the new boss does send you files to review and suggest names for you to meet? It’s fine too. The expectation of you is so low at this point (because you haven’t even started yet!), so ANYTHING you do is already going to be “more than enough”.
First Two Weeks into Your New Role
Make a checklist for your role. Categorize your responsibilities into different groups and identify the frequency and deadline for each task. If there already exists a checklist from your predecessor, update it to make it your own. Once you’ve created your checklist, send it to your boss and ask for feedback.
In your first few weeks, you are bound to receive a ton of new information from different people. You will likely have multiple stakeholders with different deliverable requirements with different deadlines. You will want to keep track of them all to avoid things falling through cracks during the fuzzy transition period (people tend to be more “forgiving” if you miss a deadline when you are new, but you will be planting the seed of “sub-bar” in people’s heads when they think of you.)
Include passive items such as “Receive XXX file from YYY department by the end of the month” in your checklist too if it is a prerequisite of your next task on the checklist. Don’t discount such passive items, because if XXX file isn’t delivered to you on time, you would be at risk of missing YOUR deadline. However, by having “Receive XXX file from YYY department by the end of the month” on your checklist, you will see clearly when it’s due, so you know when you will need to nudge or remind YYY department.
The benefits of sharing the checklist with your boss are: 1) Your boss can help you catch any missed items, if any; 2) It will show your boss how organized you are and how much you are trying. Your success is also your boss’ success; he or she will appreciate your efforts in ensuring a smooth transition with no dropped balls.
Every Friday of Your First Month
By the end of each week, send your boss a high-level transition summary that includes your “Achievements of the Week” and your “Plans for Next Week”.
Without being in the role for long, it is not easy for you to determine how urgent or critical certain tasks are. A manager from another team may come to tell you “Project X is really important, and we will need you to send us a report on it as soon as possible”. I’m sure that Project X is important to that manager, but is it equally important to YOUR manager? Has that manager requested a report from your team (maybe from a different team member) before? Why did he or she fail to get the report the first time? Is there something that’s yet to be decided before any report should be officially distributed? Would you be unknowingly stepping on other people’s toes? Or, your manager may simply think that Initiative Y is more of a burning issue than Project X and should demand more attention from you.
Use the “Weekly Updates” as a sounding board to make sure that your and your manager’s priorities are aligned, and to avoid innocent but damaging “political” mistakes in your early days.
Additionally, this will show how proactive and productive you are. Again, not many people will know or bother to send such updates, so you are going to stand out in your boss’ mind if you do so.
It is important to mention to your boss that you are ONLY going to send him or her this weekly update in your first month, so he or she wouldn’t need to worry about being bombarded by your emails or mistakenly think that you couldn’t operate without someone holding your hands. At the end of the day, what may seem like overcommunication is vital during the early months in order to build trust between you and your boss.