The first day in a new procurement job is something many of us will be facing at the moment, probably with a healthy mixture of nerves and anticipation. Whatever the feelings your first day inspires, making a great first impression should be your primary focus. It’s common to assume that ironing a shirt, planning your route and getting an early night are the only things you need to factor in, but the real key to making a positive impact concerns a different type of preparation.
First of all, there are things you can do to smooth the path and boost your success before you step through the door:
Ask to meet the team.
For many organisations this is now part of the interview process because it gives hiring managers an opportunity to see if their potential recruit will mix well with other colleagues. If you didn’t have this opportunity, why not suggest an informal get together over coffee a week or two before you start? It will enhance the company’s impression of you, reassure your co-workers of your commitment to joining them and give everyone in the team a chance to break the ice and build rapport so that you can face each other with warm familiarity on your first day.
Request a one to one with your new Line Manager.
A de-brief with the person you’ll be reporting to can be really useful, irrespective of where your position sits within the organisation. Not only is it an opportunity for you to build upon an important working relationship, it will give you valuable foresight into the things you’ll be facing so that you can mentally and strategically prepare (we’ll come on to this in more detail). It doesn’t necessarily have to be face to face. A simple chat over the phone is enough to highlight the more important factors if you’re both pushed for time.
Utilise social media as a resource.
By now you should have a good idea of who the key people are within the business and who in turn will have influence over your role. This could extend beyond obvious contacts such as the Procurement Director and reach as far as the receptionist or Directors PA. Influence comes in many guises and making friends with these key internal stakeholders is a wise move for any new employee. With that in mind, start to link in with members of your team and others whose roles will influence your own. Take some time to remember things about their careers and successes as it will be a great conversation starter for when you’re in the business and starting to actively build those relationships.
Scope out your first 6 months in post.
Many companies will ask you to present a plan of your first 6 months at interview stage because it allows them to see if you have a good grasp of what the role entails, where the challenges lie and how it can be achieved. If you’ve already done this then great, all you need to do is dust down your presentation and review it, making sure you take into account any valuable information you have gained since you accepted the offer. If not don’t be alarmed, it doesn’t have to be the work-plan equivalent of your final year dissertation. E.g.
- Start from the end and work backwards. By this we mean understand your end goal first. e.g. Align supply base with corporate strategy.
- Break down your actions month by month. e.g. Month 1: Clearly communicate company policies and values to everyone involved in choosing suppliers and managing those relationships. Month 2: Complete a review of all major contracts.
If you have your primary goal clear in your mind and you’ve scoped out how to achieve it, then you’re already on the path to success.
Scope out some key objectives for your first day.
Once you’ve confirmed who the key internal stakeholders are and you understand what you want to achieve in the first few months, it’s time to take that information and channel it into some day one action points. It’s often the small things that have the biggest impact so think simple yet effective. E.g.
- Remember how your colleagues like their coffee and offer to make the first round.
- Introduce yourself to the line managers of departments you may have a lot of contact with.
- Think positive thoughts and say only positive things. Impressions are formed quickly and are very hard to change. Make sure your new colleagues see you as the procurement pioneer rather than the purchasing Grinch.
- Prepare some open questions to ask your team members and take time to listen to their answers. E.g. How was your weekend? What did I miss last week? How did the conference go? It may sound simple but showing an interest in your colleagues is an essential way of building rapport and you will learn things that can’t be gleaned from business meetings or job specifications.
These are just a handful of many possible objectives you could set yourself, but by factoring them in you can ensure your first day and those that follow are all positive steps in the right direction.
If this is a path you’re about tread, then we wish you the very best of luck and remember, by engaging your thoughts and actions around a new role before you start you will be helping to pave the way for your own success.