NO…I’m not referring to your attire…that’s a topic for another posting.

When organizations are asked to list the most important behaviors for people who successfully transition into a new organization, the number one answer is “listen, observe and ask questions”. In spite of what you might expect, a new employer is looking for you to primarily learn from THEM in the early weeks, rather than to PROVE your worth.

In the first month of onboarding with a new organization, you will be judged more by the insightfulness of your questions than your recommendations.

It’s ironic that during much of the interview process, potential employers spend much of their time convincing you that they can’t wait to hear all of your new ideas to foster change. Yet, after you are hired, spouting one too many of these ideas too quickly in the onboarding timeframe is a sure way to derail your early success.

It may seem simple, but the challenge is to show your genuine curiosity, arrange opportunities to listen to as many people as possible, and to observe how the various parts of the organization fit together. It is particularly important to ask others about their priorities and how their role fits into the broader strategies of the organization. This is the time to be a sponge!

It is human nature that people love to be listened to, so you need to not only ask questions and listen with interest, but also to give indication that you have heard others fully. When you have one-on-one meeting, take the opportunity to sum up what you’ve heard. When you meet with your boss, give a top-line on what you’ve been observing and the themes that you’ve been picking up through your conversations with others. You needn’t have figured out all the answers in these first few weeks, you simply need to demonstrate that you’ve been listening closely and are using your insight to make observations.

For more information on leadership onboarding success visit