5 strategies for starting a new job right
Just getting the job is hard enough, but then on day one, a whole new learning curve begins. You need to know processes, products, services, policies, and organizational structures, and you need to do it quickly.
Here are five strategies that can help you start a new job right:
1. Admit what you know and ask questions about what you don’t.
You may want to come in swinging for the fences, but the reality is that you’re not expected to be the go-to person the first month on the job. Everyone assumes that you know nothing, so instead of being embarrassed by this, embrace it. Accept that you’re in learning mode, and ask questions wherever and whenever necessary. Seek out opinions from those more experienced, and most of all, understand who the go-to person is for each aspect of your job and department.
Remember, you might think it makes you look ill-prepared to ask a lot of questions, but the truth is, you can only fake it for so long. If you don’t know something, it will so become apparent. So ask the question, and understand the answer. It will get you started on the right foot.
2. Build up a database of people who know what you don’t
Ever see Star Wars? Luke Skywalker needs Yoda to navigate the tricky balance between the force and the dark side. This isn’t to say that you need to find the oldest person in your office and then train with them in a swamp, but it does illustrate the value in seeking out people who can fill in your knowledge gaps. What are the office dynamics (and politics)? How are things done? What is the approval process like? Are there any office personalities that you need to be aware of? What are the best places to eat lunch? No matter what the answers are to these questions, it helps if you can find them out. Be friendly and sociable, and make sure not to eat alone. This gives you a chance to get to know your co-workers (and find your personal Yoda).
3. Think strategically.
Learn to look at the big picture. If you know Joe does a weekly report every Thursday and Joe is going on vacation for two weeks, ask if you might be able to handle the report for him while he is away. Lift your head up once or twice an hour, take a look around and see what is going on around you. Some people make statements about what needs doing, and others ask for help out right. Listen for the implications; take time to read between the lines.
As Wayne Gretzky said, “look for where the puck is going, not where it’s been.”
4. Set your boundaries early on.
When you are the new kid on the block, you might be taken advantage of and asked to work more overtime than others (and sometimes you just think you have to do that. Many people often don’t even take lunch during their first week, for fear of looking like a slacker). Saying no can make it seem like you aren’t a team player, but you need to assert yourself. You don’t want to burn out, and even worse, you don’t want to set the expectation that you’ll always be able (or willing) to burn the midnight oil.
5. Seek out ways to help your colleagues.
When your day is quieter than usual, step out from behind your desk and ask how you can help your colleagues. Bring an attitude of service to your job by focusing on others. Not only will this expand your experience and skills, it will let your colleagues know that you are a team player that can be counted on to help. If you treat people with respect, and stand by your word, you’ll soon be a valued member of the team. More importantly, you’ll have started building valuable working relationships that will help your day-to-day performance, as well as future job searches.
There you have it, five strategies to help you get started on the right foot. Good luck!