When you start a new job it can feel like there are too many things going on for you to know where to start. For that reason, it’s a good idea to have a plan before you walk in the door. Some way to make sure that you make the best impression you possible can.
So how do you do that? What are the things you should focus on so that you can makes sure your boss thinks you’re somebody they should keep around, give big bonuses and promote when the opportunity presents itself? Well, there are certainly worse things that you can do than these things:
Ask a Lot of Questions
A lot of people are afraid to ask questions. They shouldn’t be. This is particularly true when you’re just starting out. People can’t really expect you to know everything. How could they? You’re new, darn it!
So use that opportunity to ask as many questions as you can and get as much information as you’re able to. In that way you’ll know the ropes, seem curious and interested and avoid making assumptions. For as we all know, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.
What’s more, when you don’t start off by asking the questions, then when you’ve been around for a while it becomes a lot harder to fix any holes in your knowledge that you may have.
So close those holes while you still can.
Ask for Feedback
You might think you’re doing a fantastic job when you’re starting out. Your immediate superiors and the people you work with might not agree. The best way to find out whether that’s the case is simply to ask them to give you feedback.
Then you can fix whatever problems they present you with and make sure that you grow quickly into meeting your job’s requirements and specifications.
As an added bonus, this will give you massive brownie points, as it will let everybody see that you’re willing to learn and get better.
One thing you absolutely shouldn’t do when you ask for feedback is to constantly defend yourself. That defeats the entire point of feedback. Feedback is about finding out what your mistakes are and fixing them.
Defending yourself, as you might notice, does not occur in that list.
What’s more, if you defend yourself you’re going to annoy the feedback giver (who went out of their way to tell you what you asked them to). You’re throwing up reasons why you don’t have to change your behavior, which will make it less likely that you’ll actually become better at what you’re supposed to do. And what would you rather put on your cover letter, that you got stuck at entry level for years or that you got promoted in six months?
So yes, I understand that you’ve got a desperate urge to justify your actions, but you should resist it.
Ask Why The Things That Seem Strange Are That Way
Sometimes there might be rules that make no sense to you. Rather than ridiculing them, ask why they’re in place. There might, in fact, be some very good reasons for why things are the way they are.
While you’re at it, make sure that you don’t just ask your colleagues. They might be just as annoyed as you are with the rule that you’re talking about and therefore give you a one sided answer. Also go to the people responsible for the decision and – without making it clear how stupid you think the rule is – ask them why that decision was reached.
You might get a perfectly good answer or you might initiate a change of protocol if the person responsible doesn’t agrees that it isn’t working as well as it was planned. In either case, you end up ahead.
Come in Early and Leave Late
Once you’ve got a reputation it can often stick around. So try to build a good reputation while you’re still fresh off the boat. An easy one to aim at is the long worker one. That just means showing up half an hour before everybody else does (particularly your boss) and leaving half an hour after they do.
Trust me, they’ll notice (without you bragging about it). And it will make you look good. ‘Hard worker’ is an easy one for this company to spin into a positive trait.
Get a Grip of the Culture
Every department and company has an unwritten code of conduct. Follow it and it will be easy to fit in. Ignore it and your job will probably be in danger. Of course, you can’t follow it until you know what it is.
So pay attention to how people behave, what they wear, what events everybody attends and what topics they seem to consistently and constantly avoid. Then you should generally follow in their footsteps.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask about it. As I’ve specified above, you should ask questions. When somebody doesn’t know the answer, however, that does not necessarily mean that it’s a good idea to ignore the rule.
For example, nobody can really tell you why we drive on the side of the road that we do. That doesn’t make it a good idea to switch lanes and head off into oncoming traffic, though. Often, just because we don’t know why a rule exists, doesn’t mean there is no reason for it. It just means that it’s an unconscious one.
Once you’re settled into your role and you’ve become a part of the group, your reputation ends up hardening and becomes difficult to change. For that reason, make sure that you’ve got the reputation you want. That means putting in the extra effort, following the unwritten rules of the company, showing that you’re eager and being willing to fix the mistakes you’re making.
If you can do all of those things, then the reputation as somebody that works hard and wants to do a good job will build up with your colleagues and might even spread further through the company. And that’s a good place to be wherever you’ve started working.