A Dozen Tips To Getting A Great Start In That New Job
The following is a guest post by Mark Blayney. His bio follows.
Starting work can be daunting as you enter a new environment, but here’s a dozen tips of things to think about in your first month or so to get you off on the right foot.
Be there and be there on time –
Being punctual one of the simplest steps you can take, but one which is entirely within your control and which is very visible and gets noticed.
Get your game face on, give a good impression from the moment you walk in –
If you’ve seen the film Pulp Fiction, think about how Vincent and Jules go about getting into character outside the door of the flat they are about to hit. They are heading into their own particular work environment so they deliberately adopt their work personas before starting.
Don’t just walk in to your work in the morning. Before you get there deliberately make a little time to think about how to give the best impression from the moment you arrive, and if nothing else, before you go in, smile!
Dress appropriately –
You and your appearance need to fit in with the organisation’s culture and values. Firms can have dress codes which are either quite overt or simply enforced through the cultural norms. So, look around at what everyone else is wearing and check that your dress is appropriate.
Not being too slack is the obvious failing, but sometimes being overdressed can be a problem in achieving a cultural fit with your colleagues.
Listen and take notes –
Quite simply write everything down.
Your work is going to be overwhelming to start with and people will be telling you lots of different things, which you’ll be expected to remember. If you don’t write it down, you won’t remember. There’ll just be too much to absorb too quickly. So, write it down!
Get yourself a notebook (or an App if you prefer) and carry it with you everywhere you go at work. Use it to note down everything: work to do, names (and contact details), deadlines, ideas, everything. It’s important to realise how much you are in learning mode in these early days and how much you are going to need to take notes to be able to refer back.
People are usually very willing to help someone new and show them the ropes, but there are few things more irritating than finding they have to tell you the same thing time again and again. Acquire the reputation that you only have to be told once (because you write it down and learn it) and you will quickly earn credibility.
A properly organised and prioritised To Do list is your best friend. It’s the way you order and organise your world and turn the stream of work heading your way into something manageable. If you don’t plan, others will plan for you and you will simply end up reacting to and running around after their priorities, not yours.
Work to make everyone else around you look good –
Forget about yourself for the moment and instead work on the basis that your job is simply to make your boss (and your team of co-workers) look good.
So, think about what their goals are, what does your boss want and why, and how you can support them.
Be proactive and always look for chances to help and be useful. This will make you stand out and in due course you’ll start to be seen as indispensable.
Focusing on serving others is investing in your social capital, while at the same time helping yourself to learn and develop. Do this throughout your career and it will pay back handsomely, believe me.
Always be ready to learn –
Start off by being honest and embracing the fact you are new. No one expects you to have all the answers so don’t pretend you do because it’s not going to fool anyone.
Treat your job as a chance to learn, but don’t simply expect to sit back and be taught.
Be proactive and self-starting. So, if you find a problem, don’t just go running for help immediately or ask someone to show you what to do. Instead think about the issue to see if you can come up with answers or options yourself, and then if you need to, go and check you have got the right answer.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have a problem you can’t solve or aren’t sure you have the right answer for, then ask.
People generally like to be asked for help. It makes them feel good about themselves (I’m seen and respected as an expert) and what they’re doing (I’m being nice and helpful, how great am I?) and if they’re passionate about what they do they will positively want to share their knowledge with you.
Learn through errors –
Mistakes happen to us all, it’s part of life. So, when you get something wrong, admit it, don’t hide it. Take it to your boss (yes, you read that right) and show them what you’ve done and why. Work out together what needs to be done to fix it and how you can avoid it in future. Trust me, it’s a better way than them finding out for themselves later.
Seek feedback –
Check in with your manager on a regular basis to get their view on how you are doing. Your job is to make them look good, so don’t you want to know if they feel you have?
Share your To Do list with them at the start of each day, is it covering everything they need or is there anything else they want? This helps you ensure you get off on the right track and shows them you are being proactive in planning your work.
Check in with them before you go home to ensure everything’s been covered off that’s needed today.
Show them your notes on a regular basis (that in itself is likely to impress them). Ask them whether they feel things have gone right and whether there’s anything you could have done better?
Your work is a social environment and to be successful you need to understand the culture and build relationships. There is something to learn from each of the people around you, so dive on in and become part of the team.
What’s the coffee making rota? (Probably you as the newbie, but you never know.)
Where do people go for lunch? Go with them and talk to people.
Same again after work if people socialise.
Work out the social rules, quickly –
Every workplace will have its own little customs and practises which are the social norms everybody knows, works by and unconsciously expects everybody else to follow. So, if you don’t, because nobody told you or showed you, then people will see you (probably unfairly but there you go) as acting anti-socially.
Just getting a cup of coffee can be a minefield. What’s the fridge and milk etiquette? Do people make a round of hot drinks, or get their own? Do people have their own mugs or is it a free for all? If you’ve used the last of the water in the kettle are you expected to fill it up again? What happens to dirty cups? Are you expected to wash up after yourself, put them in a dishwasher or leave them for a cleaner?
Get this wrong and you’ll be seen as the one who took my mug (and my milk), didn’t make a round of drinks for everyone, left the kettle empty for the next person and left your dirty cups in the sink as a mess for someone else to have to wash up and put away.
Don’t burnout in month one –
The first point on this list was about being on time and you should stay on while there’s work to do. But this needs to be tempered with looking after yourself, since taken to extremes there’s always more work to do and you could then get sucked into working longer and longer hours.
Unfortunately, in the work environment there’s always more work, and there’ll always be some people who will be happy to let you put in all the hours (even though in the long run this will lead to stress and lower productivity), the only person you can really trust to look out for you, is you.
So, take responsibility for your own work-life balance right from the start.
Decide what your boundaries are. Ensure that you keep a life outside of work and make sure you work hours you are comfortable with and take the holidays and breaks you need.
Mark Blayney (www.theworkpress.com) is the author of Your First Job, an essential guide to entering the world of work for the first time.
Want more tips to calm the new job jitters? Check out the video below!