Congratulations — you got a new job! No doubt you are anxious to make a good first impression. You can bet your new co-workers and boss are anxious to see how you will fit in. Here are some tips to get you off on the right foot.
- Have a positive attitude. Attitude speaks volumes about who and what you are.
- Get clarity early with the boss about your role, priorities and expectations. Ask questions, listen well and take notes. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are unclear about something, including where to go to when you get in trouble. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Request regular one-on-one meetings about how you are doing — and what you can do even better. Developing a “can learn” in addition to a “can do” reputation will help you develop a professional and positive rapport with your new boss.
- Find a mentor — someone you respect, whose experience and opinion can help you grow in your career. Consider someone who has been there long enough to help you navigate the “political” environment. Find someone with whom you can speak freely with about workplace or career concerns (bosses don’t typically make the best mentors for this reason). Mentors can be critical relationships to your career growth. Most people are flattered and happy to help if you ask (particularly if you remind them of themselves). Remember: Having a mentor is a two-way street. Ask how you can help and contribute to their success as well.
- Show up early (you don’t have to overdo this), and don’t sprint from your desk at 4:59 p.m. You don’t have to be the last to leave but don’t always be the first to leave. Demonstrate your willingness to stay longer to finish an important project on deadline. Believe me — others notice your work ethic. There is an old saying: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. In a challenging environment it may make the difference between your getting going or simply being “gone.”
- Convince your boss that he/she made a good choice in hiring you. Most new hires are in an unofficial “probationary” period. This “honeymoon” period is when the little things, including attendance and punctuality, are noticed. If traffic is unpredictable, leave earlier. Getting there early beats getting there late any day of the week. Starting off being habitually late and/or demonstrating a lackadaisical attitude leaves bosses wondering how committed you really are and whether he or she made a mistake hiring you.
- Do what you say you will do. This is tried and true advice. Don’t promise tasks you can’t deliver. Track and honor any commitments you make to your team and boss. Deliver results that exceed commitments and expectations — consistently. Want a promotion — fast? One way is to become a “go to get it done” resource early on with both your boss and co-workers.
- Demonstrate you are a team player. Pitch in on things like lunchroom cleanup, making coffee or replenishing the printer paper. Work hard to get along with all your colleagues — from the janitorial staff to the receptionist. You might be surprised about who has leverage with the boss when they hear you are well-liked (or not!) by your co-workers.
- Don’t use company time to surf the Internet, send personal e-mails or stay plugged into your iPod (at the very least until you become more familiar with the company’s culture and tolerance or boundaries around these kinds of activities). Take care of your personal needs on your time. Take the initiative during slow or down time to research and learn something new you can apply to your job — there is always something you can be working on to improve or helping someone else out with.
- Don’t establish yourself as the newly designated “water cooler gossip.” Stay out of personal issues and office politics for as long as possible. (Yes, I know it is tempting and human nature.) Avoid getting sucked in and coerced by the naysayers and complainers. You will be judged by your discretion, including those people you choose to surround yourself with — choose intentionally and wisely.
- Don’t bring your boss problems without also offering options for a solution. Don’t say, “Sorry, boss, the printer broke so those handouts you wanted won’t be done in time for the meeting.” Instead try, “The printer broke. I submitted the materials online to Kinkos and am leaving to pick them up so you will have them in time for your meeting.” Demonstrating you are resourceful and capable of resolving challenges will help put you on the fast track.
Lastly, don’t get defensive or upset when your boss offers constructive criticism or feedback. Instead, take feedback as a learning opportunity and thank your boss for helping you become more aware.
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