You must make a great impression and are successful within your initial 90-days of employment. Your success during your onboarding is pivotal in your future career with the organization. One of the key factors of success is learning about the culture of the organization quickly and using that information to be productive. 

Ask the below 11 questions during the first few weeks of employment to learn about the culture of the organization quickly, resulting in high productivity and stronger relationships. Use these as conversation starters to develop a deeper understanding of the organization.

  1. How and where are decisions made?

Things may not always be what they seem. Decisions may be made in the boardroom, however, they may happen during lunch or on the golf course. Knowing this information can make a major impact on your future with the organization.

  1. Who is in your chain of command?

In the military, we’re used to being introduced to our complete chain of command on day one. Either we meet them in person or via photograph and description. The bottom line is that we know who to turn to for answers and how to funnel information efficiently. The same is true in your new organization. 

  1. How strictly is the chain of command enforced?

Every organization is different. Some maintain an open-door policy on all levels. Others enforce the chain of command strictly. Please do not assume that everyone follows the chain of command as formally as the military. If the organization is casual, your military formality can be off-putting. If the organization is formal and you assume they are casual you may be perceived as flippant and disrespectful. 

  1. Who do I answer to?

Despite having a chain of command you may not speak with your first level manager regularly. You may answer to someone completely outside of your chain of command. Knowing this can save you some confusion and frustration. 

  1. Who rates my evaluations?

You do not want to assume the person you report to shares the same standards as your evaluator. Knowing who evaluates you and understanding their standards can go a long way in ensuring your evaluation is fair and complete.

  1. Who are the gatekeepers?

Gatekeepers are influencers and you need to win them over. Gatekeepers help you gain access to people, places, and things that may not be readily available. Don’t make the mistake and believe gatekeepers are only at the top. Many are at lower to middle levels of the pyramid but have earned credibility and influence with important people. Be genuine, kind, and network with them. They are important.

  1. Describe client/employee relationships? 

Understanding how clients and employees interact with each other can go a long way in being a valued member of the team. Some teams have clear boundaries that prevent employees from communicating with unassigned clients or leads. Other teams are more fluid and much more supportive, allowing team members to speak with unassigned clients.

  1. How does communication flow?

Does your organization communicate primarily with email, in person, via text? Communication is so important. Communicating in a way your co-workers accept will refuse the occurrences of confusion, frustration, and misunderstanding.

  1. What operationally happened in the last five years and how has it influenced operations today?

Understanding the history of the organization and how it influences current-day operations will give you an advantage in making sound holistic decisions. 

  1. What is the operation tempo of the organization and the team?

Understanding the difference between your team and organization operation tempos will help you tactically and strategically prepare for obstacles, solutions, and resources. Knowing what your team and organization see as priorities as well as understanding its urgency will prevent you from making costly mistakes.

  1. What has been the primary focus of team projects over the past 3 years? How are past projects different from current projects?

The answer to this question will provide you with insight into the direction where the company and team are going and where it has come from. This helps to empower you in asking the right questions, making informed decisions, and accessing better resources. 

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