When you’re starting a new nursing job, there’s a lot to take in and adjust to. Of course, you want to make a good impression, and you also want to be certain regarding what’s expected of you. A listener recently asked me to cover this issue, so this episode is in direct response to that request; this is a universal concern for nurses and other professionals, and the first month on a job is so crucial to your success.
Just as we measure a President’s performance by what gets accomplished in the first 100 days of a new administration, many of us find ourselves under the scrutiny of our 90-day probation period in the workplace.
These tips aren’t necessarily comprehensive, but they cover many aspects of what you may want to focus on when you’re new on the job, and they’re not offered in any particular order of importance.
- GET CLARITY: Get clarity about what’s expected of you. Meet with your supervisor and clarify anything about your job description that feels less than clear. Once you understand what’s expected, create a plan to exceed those expectations by a mile. Request periodic meetings with your supervisor in order to stay on track. in the workplace,
2. OBSERVE: Be observant. Assess, take it all in, and get to know your new surroundings and colleagues. Your observations are key to gaining understanding and integrating.
3. NETWORK: Begin networking immediately: reach out, say hi, introduce yourself, learn names. Don’t just pay attention to your immediate colleagues; get to know janitorial staff, cafeteria workers, and others outside of those in your unit, office, or area. Find your allies and members of your tribe, and see if one person rises to the top as a potential mentor and/or confidante. If you’re using LinkedIn the way that I’ve mentioned before on this podcast, connect with your colleagues and peers on that platform; once you’ve worked with someone for a while, write him or her a testimonial in order to share how much you appreciate and recognize them.
4. ASSESS THE CULTURE: Every workplace has a culture, and it’s important to assess the culture in your new professional home. Culture includes communication styles, organizational structure, the nature of relationships, hierarchy, and so many other aspects of a workplace. How are decisions made? Do people go out for drinks after work? Are birthdays or holidays celebrated? Do your colleagues share about their personal lives, or are they more guarded and contained? Do things feel open and freewheeling, or does the atmosphere feel more closed and constricted?
Understanding the culture will help you to integrate and be on the same wavelength as your peers. If you’ve entered as a new leader, manager, or supervisor, you can greatly influence or change the culture if you feel drawn to do so; however, be aware that some people may resist change if they’re satisfied with the status quo.
5. MAKE AN IMPACT: As you assess your new situation, see if there are any ways in which you can make a significant impact quickly. Is there some way in which you can make a mark, get involved, contribute, or otherwise do something positive?
Having assessed the culture and observed your colleagues closely, you can ascertain how to make a splash or have an impact without stepping on toes or causing others to feel less significant. You need to respect how things are done, but you can offer new ways of doing things or solving problems in a manner that’s attuned with the culture you’ve observed.
6. CREATE GOOD HABITS FROM DAY ONE: Be on time, even if others seem to not honor schedules or posted times of arrival to work. Be cheerful and positive, and avoid getting caught up in gossip and negativity. Good habits include your networking skills, like remembering people’s names and positions, showing interest in others, and being helpful. However your mother told you to behave in kindergarten probably still holds true for you in the workplace.
7. DOCUMENT YOUR WORK: As soon as you begin your new job, add it to your resume and your LinkedIn profile. If you get involved in a committee or a research project, make sure to document the ways in which you’ve contributed. These may come in handy on your resume or when you ask for a raise or promotion.
8. GIVE THEM YOUR BEST: Remember what made you special in their eyes and what they hired you for; give them that and more. You can choose to overdeliver, and give them even more than 100%.
Finally, here are Bruno and Jenny, my donkey neighbors that I referenced during this episode. They graze at the fence line not 200 feet from our front door, and we see them every day; they’re amazing networkers!
This episode of The Nurse Keith Show is brought to you by my friends at StaffGarden, a unique digital healthcare company allowing nurses to create a private online ePortfolio that StaffGarden shares with high-quality employers (with your permission, of course) in order to connect you with the best facilities and positions.
StaffGarden partners with fantastic employers seeking the best candidates in the nursing profession; through powerful partnerships with the recruiters and talent acquisition professionals employed by these healthcare leaders, they deliver your ePortfolio directly to the people who are looking for nurses just like you.
Having a StaffGarden ePortfolio and landing a job with a partnering employer costs you nothing. However, your ePortfolio will get you noticed for positions that you would likely not have access to through traditional ads or job postings.
As a nurse, partnering with StaffGarden adds depth and breadth to your job search process, as well as your exposure to some of the most progressive healthcare employers in the country. Allow SG to work for you and connect you with some of the greatest job opportunities in 21st-century healthcare.
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Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.