A new job can be stressful, and on the first day, you’re already in a tough position – how do you make a great first impression? How do you earn the respect of your colleagues, while learning the lay of the land? So many factors, so many variables, and the pressure is on. To acclimate properly, there are a few Do’s – and plenty of Don’ts. When you start working at a new company, try to refrain from making these mistakes.
1. Forgetting How to Listen
When you’re getting to know your new colleagues, you may feel the pressure to prove yourself. As an unfortunate consequence, you might start talking – perhaps uncontrollably. In your effort to demonstrate how capable, interesting, funny, and wonderful you are, watch yourself and make sure you don’t turn into a motormouth. A steady stream of one-liners and quotes from your CV will certainly not impress your new team; in fact, it might have the opposite effect – endless chatter does not convey confidence. Furthermore, if you take every chance to sing your own praises, you’ll give your teammates the feeling that you don’t care enough to listen to them. By talking too much during your Day 1 introductions and training, you could miss a valuable opportunity to learn about the work environment at your new company.
2. Acting Like a Know-It-All
Congratulations – your expertise in global trading is unmatched, and your Excel spreadsheets are comparable to modern art. Skills like these probably got you this job. But if you interrupt your colleagues as they try to explain every task, by telling them that you’ve “mastered Microsoft Office,” or that you “practically invented active sourcing,” this won’t score you any points. It’s fantastic that you’re so well-qualified for the job – everyone else most likely knows it too, so skip the self-appreciation and take in all of the knowledge you can. When a co-worker tries to explain how Outlook functions, resist the urge to point out that you’ve been using Outlook for years. Sit patiently, and if asked whether you’re familiar with a practice or program, answer modestly and honestly. Try saying: “Yes, I’ve used it before, and I feel comfortable with it. But how do you use this program/practice here, at XY Firm?”
3. Getting “Too Comfortable”
We shouldn’t have to tell you that addressing your new boss as “Chief” isn’t a great idea, especially on your first day. But as is the American way, some people find themselves getting too comfortable too soon. Even if you feel that you and your receptionist have a great understanding, even if your new company has a very casual atmosphere, try to remember that a more formal decorum is called for, especially on your first day. Don’t crack any racy jokes, and don’t give your new coworkers any reason to dislike you. Stay neutral but warm!
4. “At My Old Company…”
So you learned a lot with your previous employer. They may have had a barista on staff, perhaps they were able to quadruple their revenue by implementing a controversial new tool, and maybe you were the shining star on your team. But this new company does not care. Fight the urge to draw constant comparisons to your former company, as it makes you sound nostalgic and stubborn. But you can suggest how lessons you’ve learned in the past might help you to solve current problems in your new firm. The key is to do it without an air of superiority. For example, if your new employer mentions that they’re having trouble filling a certain position, you can offer one option: “I understand the problem. I had a similar situation with AB Firm, but we found that by incentivizing internal recruitment, we were able to find some really great talent. Perhaps you can consider something like that?” Helpful, but not pushy – perfect!
5. Focusing on the Goal, Not the People
It can be super helpful to enter a new position with some goals – slashing spending, creating a more efficient work schedule, raising profits. But in your efforts to check these achievements off your list, are you ignoring the people around you? Remember that your colleagues are interesting and valuable people. By getting to know them, their hobbies, their strengths and weaknesses, you can foster a more productive work environment. When you need a favor from Ted in accounting, he’ll be a lot more likely to send you the month’s PnL if you remembered to wish him a happy birthday last week.
6. “I Can Do Everything!!”
Fluid job descriptions are par for the course in today’s job market. But as you strive to show your company how efficient and hardworking you are, you might be tempted to take on more than you can handle. Balance and structure are both necessary for success, so before you volunteer to reevaluate 2012’s audits, make sure that you can keep up with your workload. And if you agree to take over a task that you’re not properly trained for, chances are that you will face obstacles you simply cannot overcome. There’s no shame in not knowing – don’t be afraid to ask questions or simply tell your colleagues that you’re not the right person for the job. But demonstrate your willingness to learn, and your enthusiasm for your tasks, and you can’t go wrong.
Congratulations on your new job, and good luck starting at your new company! For more career advice for senior management, read our tips on how to advance in your career.