Hey you, with the “deer in the headlights” look! Have you just begun a new job? Feeling a little “iffy” about what to do and how to conduct yourself? Well, every single person reading this blog has been where you are at one point or another. Everybody’s gotta start sometime, including the CEO of Microsoft and the Queen of England. And if they survived (and thrived), so can you!
However, there are definitely some things you can do to ensure your success in a new work environment. So take a deep breath, relax, and read on…
Baby steps. First, be careful and go slowly the first couple days. Look around. Observe. You’re in learning mode, and there’s a whole lot more to learn than just the job itself—in fact, things that might even be more important, if you’re intending to stay. Rushing in with a “HEY LOOK—I’M HERE!” attitude can get you noticed—but not necessarily in a good way. You want to be friendly, professional, and open, but wait until you get your bearings and can accurately read the social vibes and culture of the organization before you wear your favorite day-glow orange pants to work, or break into a tap dance on the elevator, just because it’s Friday. (Even though I would personally love it if you did both of those things, your first day on the job!) Think integration. Think fitting in. It’s a much safer bet than possibly alienating your co-workers (or, God forbid, your boss) before you’ve assessed the lay of the land.
Build bridges. Second, as is true of life in general, it’s all about the relationships. Even if you’re a remote worker, even if you work in a back office inputting reams of data, even if you’re a park ranger on the most desolate mountaintop, you still must interface with someone at some point. So do your best to create positive relationships with those around you. Be courteous, helpful, and approachable to everyone you work with, everyone you meet, even everyone you see in the hallway—and that includes the parking lot attendant and the lunchroom busser. It’s simply the right thing to do; plus, you’ll reap the rewards of likability and trustworthiness.
Fess up. Third, be honest about what you know—and what you don’t. No one is going to scream at you if you don’t know everything there is to know during your first week (or even month) on the job, but they might just strangle you if you screw something up beyond repair, so now the whole department is suffering because you broke an important piece of equipment or lost a major sales account to a competitor. Ask questions. Take notes if you need to. Ask again if you’re unsure of yourself. Don’t just go charging off into the unknown—you’re not expected to know it all, or to go it alone. Plus, here’s something interesting: a recent study shows that people like others better when they ask for help! Evidently, the opportunity to help a fellow human being actually stimulates the pleasure centers in the helper’s brain. So asking for help when you need it not only prevents you from making potential mistakes, it makes you more likable! Talk about a total win-win. (Just make sure you don’t approach the mean old office crab…)
So off you go, and best of luck. And quicker than you think, you’ll soon be one of the “old-timers,” poised and eager to help the next new kid.