Your first day (and week) on the job is just like being the new kid on the school playground. You don’t know anybody so you’re probably scared. You don’t know the “rules” of the teeter-tooter (or how the coffee pot works).
You’re in a foreign land and you need to start learning the language, the little cliques, the personalities and people behind them, the rules and most importantly, where the snack table is.
It’s a nerve-wracking time because you often don’t know what the expectations are. So here are some tips for How to Navigate Your First Week on the Job:
- Remember the goal of the first week. It’s giving assurance to those who hired you that they made the right choice.
- Start your day on your toes versus on your heels. This means being proactive versus reactive.
- Be on time. Actually, scratch that, be 15 minutes early and stay 15 minutes later. Minimum. And count on that all week. Lunch is also one hour typically. Plan to be back before time.
- Stow the cell phone away. In fact, maybe you should leave it in your car for the first week at least. You’re setting a tone and image that getting constant buzzes on your phone while your boss or coworkers are talking is disrespectful and disruptive. Let’s also apply this to social media, at least for your first week or more.
- Befriend the assistants and receptionists. Especially long-time ones. They know the ins and outs. And top level assistants often have the ears of the leadership. They know all the rules but often get too little respect or appreciation. By the way, you should be nice and friendly to everyone, no matter position or title. (I always went out of my way to be nice to our janitorial staff. These peeps will often look out for you later because you merely recognized that they were people too.)
- Get to know your coworkers and what they do. Remembering names makes a mark. And start looking for a buddy. Someone you like and have similar interests and views.
- Start absorbing the company culture. Listen and ask for stories about the company and the team. This is more the why things are done than the how.
- When in doubt, ask for direction. Don’t just sit there like a bump on a log. But don’t consume all your boss’ time or others asking for help either.
- Start learning the rules. All the systems, processes, protocols, procedures, policies, spoken or unspoken rules. Every organization has them, like how to make coffee yourself when the pot is low … or putting paper towels in the breakroom … to when it’s acceptable to go to lunch.
- Know who the influencers are. Who are the people in the organization that really make things happen? What’s their background? Personality? Who do they report to and direct?
- Find something to do if there isn’t anything to do. Particularly in your own position and department. But if you strike out there, go ask people if you can help, explaining that you’ve finished what you were supposed to do, rather than sit bored and idle.
- Beware of joining a clique too soon. Beware of office power plays. You need to know what the gangs are and why.
- Be polite, helpful, friendly and happy. You’re just glad to be there. That means you need to smile. And really an even more basic translation is: Be someone your new coworkers are excited to work with because of your attitude and work ethic.
The faster you get acclimated to your new classroom, school and playground, the better it’s going to be for your future success!
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