There's no feeling quite like starting a new job, that unique blend of excitement, anxiety and disorientation. Sure, you know you'll inevitably get something wrong, but that's when you learn, move on and do better next time.
If you're currently the new kid at the office (or about to be), we rounded some tips to help you start strong, along with some unfortunate tales of new hire mistakes, from local women in the workplace.
Warning: Some of these may remind you of your own cringeworthy mistakes. Just take a deep breath and know you're in a better place.
First-timer Faux Pas:
"As a new hire, I've made plenty of mistakes, including crying to the boss. Some might say it's expressing myself and not bottling up emotions or fear, but to me it was just downright embarrassing. I think accepting change is something that everyone takes differently. I thought I was good at handling change well, but apparently it makes me emotional. I'm excited for my new role, but you know there will be tissues beside me."
"Calling in sick. I know it can happen — people can legit get sick their first month of working — but I had a sales rep who was sick every Friday the first month she worked for me. I think that's called hungover, not sick. Regardless, she didn't last long."
"Gift of gab. I have it. I could talk to the wall if needed. It's beneficial at many times, but my first job out of college really helped me identify this. I would catch myself just chatting away to my new boss and finally one day she broke. She yelled at me. It was horrific, but likely deserved. It made me remember that I am here to do work, to help my boss succeed (and, in turn, me) and that her time (and mine) is precious. So I saved my chatting with her for our one-on-one time going forward. Now I am friendly, but not chatty. Especially with my bosses."
"Leaving early. We see people coming in after 8:30 and leaving early all the time, and when I see a new employee doing this (without clearing it first) it drives me mad. More than likely, the folks setting their own hours have been here a while. They have earned the right and their boss' trust to do that. Realizing you have to earn that right is important to discover."
Advice for Newbies:
"Be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t know something, ask. 'Fake it til you make it' doesn’t apply at the start of a new job. You’ll actually earn points for asking good questions versus not asking and coming across as flaky or incompetent."
"If you’re a newly hired supervisor or manager, don’t come in and try to change everything on day one. Start by learning the people, the processes and the company. If you start by trying to understand and then work with the team to make change, you’ll have much better success in the long run. If you come in and immediately make change without first learning the current state, you’re likely to make more enemies than partners. Plus, you may just create change for change instead of change for good."
"Don’t count on someone else to teach you everything. The best new hires come in with a plan on how they want to learn and connect with others. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and you should be comfortable flexing and adjusting, but starting with a solid onboarding plan for yourself will win over your boss immediately. I recommend a 30-60-90-day plan where the first 30 days are focused on learning the team, processes and company; the next 30 on executing in the current state and future plan development; and the final 30 on rolling out a change plan."
"Get to know people! Set up informational interviews with lots of people. You’ll learn the informal ways of working and you’ll build connections across the company. I recommend starting with only three questions, such as:
- Tell me about your role. What do you love about what you do?
- How do you see us (or our areas/departments) working together? What expectations do you have of me in my role?
- What makes someone successful here?"
"Find a best friend at work as soon as you can. Your boss is great to provide you with direction and expectations, but you need to find yourself a buddy who can give you the real real on how things get done, who to call when your email won’t work and how to best deal with 'Betty in Accounting.' Look for someone at your peer level who is open to helping you out with a question or two as you’re getting settled in."