3 Ways to Take Charge Of Your Onboarding When You Start a New Job

woman on laptop holding baby

Sarah Chai, Pexels

Profile Picture
Erin Thomas, Career + Leadership Coach 559
Get your career into focus!

You’ve spent countless hours networking with new and existing contacts, searching and applying for  jobs, customizing your resume and cover letter, interviewing and considering offers. You’ve finally  negotiated the best offer that’s come your way and you start your new job in just a few weeks.  

First of all, congratulations. It’s no small feat to get to this point. It’s likely taken you incredible patience,  tenacity, resilience and intention. 

Now comes the next important step: preparing to start your new job. I don’t just mean planning your outfit and commute (if you have one!) – though those things are important, of course. I mean digging a little deeper and planning how you want to show up in this new role and what you need to do within the first few weeks to ensure success.  

All too often new employees start jobs and depend solely on their supervisor’s or the company’s onboarding plan. In a perfect world, every supervisor and HR department would have a robust and highly effective onboarding process for new employees — but we’ve probably all experienced that this often isn’t the reality.  

In fact, in 2018, the Human Capital Institute, a talent management association, paired up with workforce management technology company Kronos Inc. and conducted a study of more than 350 HR leaders in the U.S. In this survey, 76% of respondents reported they weren’t onboarding new employees effectively and nearly a quarter (24%) reported that they don’t have onboarding programs in place at all.  

Conversely, research by Gallup Workplace states that having good onboarding that includes career development increases new employee satisfaction by 3.5x.  

Now, maybe you’ll get lucky and land at a company that has effective onboarding, but looking at the numbers, that’s not likely. So, doing everything in your power to manage your onboarding will help you be as successful as possible.  

1. Start with intentions.

Take 20 minutes of heads-down focus time and answer these questions:  

1. How do you want to show up in this new role? 

2. What do you want others to see in you?  

3. What do you want to prioritize in your first few months?  

Once you’ve brainstormed your answers, make an intentions list with the answers that are truest for  you and read them every morning for the first month of your new job.  

2. Map out your goals, activities and outcomes.

Think about your goals in three domains: performance, people and culture and professional development. 

Performance goals 

Performance goals are related to your specific job scope and performance. Now I know what you’re  thinking, “I don’t know what my performance expectations are because I haven’t started yet!” Exactly,  which is why you need to ensure you get the appropriate information after you’ve started so you do have them And can design around them. This is mission-critical.




Clarify and build out my key performance indicators for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, and beyond 

  • Meet with my supervisor to talk  about KPIs  
  • Meet with other relevant stakeholders  
  • Create a dashboard with KPIs 

I am meeting or exceeding performance expectations

Develop a work plan in collaboration with my  supervisor (and any other key stakeholders)

  • Build out a work plan  
  • Get feedback from my supervisor  and other relevant stakeholders 
  • Finalize my work plan and review  it every month with my supervisor for progress evaluation 

I know what my priorities are, what work needs to get done. I’ll evaluate my  progress continuously

Check-in regularly with my supervisor about my performance and metrics 

  • Request a weekly or bi-weekly  check-in with my supervisor and set up the meeting  
  • Bring my work plan and KPI  dashboard to every check-in meeting and review with my supervisor

My supervisor is tracking my work progress and KPIs and I consistently ask for feedback or support on barriers if needed 

People and culture goals 

Building relationships with coworkers and internal/external stakeholders is crucial when starting a new job. Additionally, understanding the spoken (and unspoken) norms and behaviors of a team or company is vital for success.  




Clarify who my internal and external stakeholders are

  • Meet with my supervisor to get  their assessment  
  • Meet with others on the team  and ask how this role works  with them 

I know who my important  stakeholders are 

Understand what’s most important to people on my team  and people in leadership at the  company

  • Ask people what’s important  to them  
  • Ask my supervisor or other leaders what’s important to leadership 

I understand what’s  important to people I work with 

Learn spoken and unspoken cultural norms on the team and in the company
  • Ask supervisor and others what  the spoken and unspoken norms are 
  • Observe and reflect on behaviors I’m noticing – if  they’re confusing, bring them up to my supervisor or HR

 I understand the cultural norms of my team and  company

Professional development goals  

As previously mentioned, employees that have good onboarding which addresses career development are more likely to be satisfied by 3.5x. So, let’s make sure that even if this isn’t built into your predetermined onboarding set by the company, you’ll address it regardless.  




Learn what opportunities exist  for professional development on my team and in the company at large 

  • Ask supervisor and/or HR  about opportunities and budget for professional development 
  • Talk to coworkers about what  personal development they’ve  done 

I have an awareness of the  potential opportunities in  front of me 

Enroll in at least one technical or  leadership skill-building course, workshop or program 

  • Select one professional development topic and enroll  in a course, workshop, or program

I’ve learned a new skill and  incorporated it into my job  scope

Get promoted in one year 

  • Let my supervisor know that this is my intention 
  • Ask what I need to do to get a promotion 

I will be promoted within one year

3. Share your intentions and goals with your supervisor and/or leadership.

Once you begin your new role, it’s also important to share your intentions and goals with your supervisor and/or leadership. Sharing this shows them not only how prepared, diligent, self-reliant, and resourceful you are, but also how important the job is to you and your willingness (and ability) to manage up.  

Lastly, have fun with this new role. You’re only the newbie in a job for about a month, so learn, listen,  and build relationships with curiosity, vulnerability and joy. Also remember, there are lots of things outside of your control when your start a new job. Try to focus only on what you can control, and use your intentions and mapped-out goals as a guide to do just that.  


This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Erin Thomas is a career and executive coach. Interested in receiving career-advancing resources direct to your inbox? Sign up here

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for starting a new job? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!