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Here’s How to Totally Own Your New Job

January 7, 2016, 3:04 PM UTC
Courtesy of Liberty Mutual

The Fortune 500 Insider Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Melanie Foley, executive vice president and chief talent and enterprise services officer at Liberty Mutual, has answered the question: What are some common mistakes you see new hires make?

When you land a new job and day one is fast approaching, it’s normal to feel a mix of emotions—especially excitement and anxiety—about starting something new. More likely than not, your focus will be on the job itself and your performance. And while performing well is certainly critical to your success, there are a few other components of taking on a new role that warrant your attention. My hope is that by sharing my experiences with you, you can navigate your new role and avoid these potential pitfalls:

Contribute early and often
Ambition is a good thing, and there are different ways to show it. As the rookie on the team, you will have to strike a balance between demonstrating your competence in your role as an individual while supporting the overall goals of the team. If you come off as too focused on yourself, not only will your reputation suffer, but you may miss an opportunity to learn from others. Your company is making an investment in you, and in return you should think about what value you are adding to those around you and the organization. It’s never too early to feel a shared sense of accountability for the success of the company, which you can do easily by offering ideas, collaborating, and making things more effective. You should derive confidence from being a new hire, as you’ll bring in a unique perspective, especially if you learn about your new company’s current practices, what’s worked for the team, and what hasn’t.


Exercise your inner anthropologist
Whether you are taking on a different role within your company, new to your company, or new to the workforce entirely, it’s imperative that you take the time to observe the practices and behaviors around you to better understand the culture. Each culture has spoken and unspoken rules. Behaviors and processes tend to be easier to understand since they’re more explicit and visible. But values, cultural norms, and informal networks take more time to recognize, and therein lies the challenge. So what can you do to integrate faster? Great companies recognize the onboarding challenges of today and offer new hires peer buddies.

Your buddy can also help understand the unspoken rules and help you navigate the following:

  • Who are the successful people in the company and why?
  • Who has decision-making authority, and how are decisions really made within the organization?
  • What competencies are most valued? Which are least valued?


Take the time and make the effort to understand how to navigate complex relationships. This will help you avoid any initial missteps and help you build your credibility faster.

Own your career development
Many companies have tools and practices to support you in your efforts to build your skills and shape your career path. Your manager plays an important role in guiding you through the career development process, but ultimately, it’s you who owns your career. But don’t mistake owning your career with having to do it on your own. It’s quite the opposite. You should thoughtfully build a support network comprised of both sponsors and mentors (yes, more than one) who can help guide you, go to bat for you, introduce you to a broader network of colleagues, and help you build your brand. New hires who effectively seek out these resources do so because they understand that to be successful in business today, you have to perform well in your role and be known in the organization.