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Dear HR Professional,

Help! The person I replaced was a workaholic. How can I still be impressive in my new position, without having to work crazy hours like they did?

Unwilling to Be a Workaholic

Dear Unwilling to Be a Workaholic,

Before you spend too much time worrying about unrealistic expectations in regards to the person who came before you, get aligned with your new boss about the goals of your role and your responsibilities. You need to ensure that you understand what is expected of you and that your manager knows what you’re doing during the ramp up period.

I recommend the following when starting any new job:

1. Form a Plan

Make a 30-60-90 day plan with your supervisor during your first week. Writing this down makes it nearly impossible to be misaligned on what is expected of you.

The purpose of this plan is to outline the goals you need to hit at your 30-day mark, 60-day mark, and 90-day mark respectively. The first 30 days is about learning, the next 30 days is about starting to contribute, and the final 30 days is about meeting expectations of the role.

I recommend thinking about these milestones in terms of people (who do you deliver results to and work with?), process (how do you do your job?) and product (in what ways do you impact the product/customer?).

2. Find Your Quick Wins

Once you’ve nailed down your 30-60-90 day plan, its time to figure out what your quick wins will be. What are the biggest pain points (but also lowest-hanging fruit) that you can address successfully and quickly to prove yourself?

Make sure those are delivered well and with as much as exposure as possible. This is your first impression. This is when people will go to your manager and say that you really know what you’re doing.

3. Create a One-on-One Template

Establish a one-on-one template that you can use during your regular check-ins with your boss (and if you don’t have those set up—here’s how to go about that). The point of this is to write down what you’ve been working on, what’s next on your to-do list, and what challenges you’ve been running into so that you can drive your time with your manager and ensure that they know what you’re working on.

It also helps you get what you need out of the conversation. For example, if you need coaching time to work through an issue, you can leave space for that. I personally like to send this to my manager the night before our meeting so that he has time to read it ahead of time.

Beyond acing your ramp up period in your new job, doing the above things will set you up for a successful relationship with your new boss. You will have established trust early on and proven that you bring results and hit goals—no matter how many hours you sit at that desk.

Updated 6/19/2020