13 Tips to Avoid The Biggest Mistake New Employees Make

career tips new job performance Jul 11, 2019

Have you started a new job?

Are you getting ready to start a new job?


A mistake many job seekers make is "declaring victory" after they get the job and relaxing into the job. They stop selling themselves to the company, their manager and peers. 

They don't set specific intentions and a detailed plan for their first 90 days. Instead, they think they have a grace period where they can label themselves as "learning" or "in training." They think they'll get a pass for not knowing everything yet.

This is a big mistake.

The first 90 days set the tone for a new employee's reputation, relationships, and influence in the organization.

Compounding this lack of a specific 90 day plan is the common "buyers remorse" many new employees experience. They wonder:

  • Was the best decision?
  • Did they get a fair compensation package?
  • Will their manager and colleagues be supportive?
  • Will they be good at the job?

This dip in certainty impacts the initial impression they make in their new role, and can result in lasting damage to their reputation, trust and influence in the organization.

So, now that you know the common mistakes new employees make, what can you do about it?


Don't relax into your new job and label yourself as "in training, I'll figure it out eventually."  Instead, implement these 12 tips:

1. Create a very specific 90 day plan for yourself. Treat your first 90 days as a project plan.

  • Plan out all the aspects of your on-boarding including the training you need to take, all the job responsibilities you will assume (sooner than later), the people you need to meet (colleagues, clients), and all the steps listed in this article.
  • Don't wait or rely on your manager to do this for you.
  • Show him/her your plan and get input and buy-in. 

2. Bond with your manager. Focus on figuring out what your manager values, how to make their professional life easier, and how to become their go-to person.

3. Identify and connect with your influential colleagues. These are the people that leaders go to when they need advice and input. They may or may not have a title. Find them and build a relationship with them.

4. Understand the big picture. How people are rewarded, what the company/leadership values.

5. Be cautious who you open up to. It’s very common to want to open up to colleagues and even your manager about your concerns and uneasiness. Be cautious here. If you’re feeling insecure, find an outside person as a sounding board so that you don’t lose their confidence. A coach is a great person for this!

6. Prioritize value. It’s easy to get caught up in learning and training. These are important but not as important as doing the work required to drive results. Dive into your job and learn as you go.

7. Understand what motivates your team. If you’re managing people, get to know them individually. Figure out what motivates them, what their goals are, why they’re working in their job, why they stay, and their past challenges. Get to know each one individually so you can motivate and manage them via a personalized approach.

8. Don’t wait to initiate. Don’t wait for your manager to ask for your 90 day plan. Build it out and get his/her buy-in on your proposed priorities and definition of success.

9. Define your future self. Write out the vision of you operating at full capacity in your new role and achieving your next milestone goal. Write it out in detail.

10. Be your future self. Begin operating as your future self, as the person who has already accomplished his/her first year goals, as the person who is confident, and who is delivering immense value to your organization.

11. Let go of your past self. Pinpoint the stories you’ve built up about yourself  through past experiences. None of this matters --- if things went well, past conflicts, past shortcomings, even past success. This is a new opportunity to redefine yourself. Take it!

12. Don’t forget your brain. Check in with what you’re thinking and feeling on a daily basis. Are you excited, motivated, and focused? Or, are you starting to feel discouraged, unsupported, and questioning your decision? Figure out what’s causing you to lose momentum. Hint: it’s your thoughts about you, your abilities, your boss, your colleagues, etc. You can shift your thoughts to restore the excitement.

13. Operate at the level above what’s expected. Understand the expectations (dress code, hours in the office, deliverables, status reporting, communication, etc.) and work at one level above all of these. How can you exceed the expectations vs. coming in at or below?

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