Starting a new job can be daunting. You’re conscious about everything because you don’t know anyone and most of all, you don’t really know the company or the office culture.
Take it from someone like me who has worked in three different corporate setting in the last 15 years. I’ve worked at Macy’s, Expedia, and a few real estate offices in my career.
I’ve been in the shoes of a new employee as well as the supervising manager for new employees. As a manager, I’ve been shocked more times than I’d like to admit by new employees’ lack of office ettiquette or effort to impress the managers upon starting a new job.
I thought writing this blog would especially help our emerging new generation in adjusting to their first or new job. Your reputation is part of your personal brand and learning how to build and maintain your reputation is an important career decision.
1. Be early. Aim to be there before your manager arrives. Now, you might ask, “how long am I going to keep this up?” and honestly, my answer is for as long as you can! There is no definite answer because every manager is different. Give yourself enough time to organize your tasks for the day. Review your notes from previous day and follow up on lose ends. Make your coffee or if the office has a kitchen, brew the first pot. When your manager arrives let him or her know a hot pot of coffee is available in the kitchen. These are all part of unwritten and unsaid office “pleasantries”.
I can’t personally tell you how I learned this. I could say it was how I was brought up or maybe I have always read between the lines. For those who needed to read this, I hope it helps.
2. Don’t leave before your boss. With that said, sometimes there are employees that stay much later than everyone else and you don’t have to wait for them. I am actually one of those people who sometimes stay until 10pm in the office. Nobody asks me to, I just have that kind of work ethic (borderline workaholic 😉).
You don’t have to stay as late as I do but just make sure you ask your direct supervisor, 30-60 minutes before you’d like to leave if there’s anything you could do for them before the day ends. This particular courtesy goes a long way. Here’s a suggestion on how you should ask:
” I realize the day is almost over and I wanted to know if there’s anything you’d like me to do or finish before you leave today?”
This gives you a chance to work on it early enough and even if you’re finished before your supervisor leaves, you can both feel a sense of accomplishment and that’s a great way to end the day.
3. Report your progress. As a new employee, your boss will most likely have a list of things that you’ll need to work on. Most of it will be busy work but it will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with your job. Make an effort to let your supervisor know how you are doing with the task list.
Request weekly meetings (if there isn’t one in place) so you can ask your questions and provide update of your progress.
If you are new, do not take the liberty to delegate your task. At least not in the first 3 months. Your manager expects to see you perform the task and delegating them when you are new may make you look lazy or opportunistic. Both are negative reputations as a new employee.
4. Dress to impress. This cliche is especially true if you are the new kid on the block. Dress like you are going to an interview. You can always dress down if you find that the office culture is more relaxed. In my career, I have learned that this tip is still often misunderstood because not everyone knows how to dress professional or conservative. Buttoned up blouse, knee length skirt, dress pants, closed toe shoes are the safest bet for females. Let’s face it, men have it easy. Do not take chances on your first week. Dress conservatively and professionally. This tip is non-negotiable!
5. Go above and beyond the call of duty. When you are new to the company, you have a lot to prove to your co-workers and your boss. Some of your co-workers might give you the stares questioning why you were chosen for the job. You aren’t privey to the office culture or drama so it’s best to give zero allowance for people to doubt your worth.
You might ask yourself, “how do I go above and beyond?” The easiest way is to anticipate what your boss needs and do more! If you know that there’s an upcoming event, take care of the necessary steps to get the planning started. Set meeting dates, engage in the process of creative marketing collateral, research how the last event was done and figure how you can make it better.
Another example is finishing your tasks ahead of time and offer to complete additional tasks.
Anticipate what is needed from you, perform that task well and then ask if there’s anything else you can do. Always make yourself available to work. This will let your boss know you are hungry to learn!
6. Ask questions! Your Boss won’t really know the progress of your training process if you don’t ask questions. It’s a great indication of the level of your understanding. There are only two reasons why you don’t have questions to ask. You either know it all or you have no idea. Your boss would typically think the latter.
7. Treat everyone as your customer. Answer phone calls and emails as if your job is to serve them like they are your customers. Answer the phone with pleasant greetings. Do not give anyone a reason to say you’re rude or impolite. Don’t start your job with improper casualties. Err on the side of safety and practice proper greetings. Greet everyone good morning and say goodbye to your co-workers when you leave.
8. Take notes. Take a pen and paper everywhere you go. It shows that you are eager to learn things when you take notes. I know that technology has ruled our lives but I still suggest a pen and paper for your first week. If you must use your phone, announce that you are using it to take notes. Don’t give anyone a chance to think you are texting during the meetings.
Taking notes can also help you keep your facts straight and remember all of the new things, lingo, names and etc… that you come across in your first few weeks.
9. Be productive. Refrain from socializing when you should be working. Return from your breaks on time. Try productivity apps if you need assistance with tracking your time. Avoid checking your personal messages when you are at your desk. Remember that most IT team has access to your computer at any time. Everything you do on your work computer is the property of your company.
10. Take responsibility for the growth and development of your career. Subscribe to publications in your industry and sign up for webinars for your specific position. Your supervisor will only teach you what you are willing to learn and often times, you don’t know what you don’t know. Be responsible for your own growth! Read books and learn new skills along the way.
As a reference to #6, ask questions! Show that you’ve read or watched webinars and write your questions and ask your manager. You can tell them “I recently watched this webinar and I have some questions. Is it ok if I ask you to clarify some things I didn’t quite understand?” That question tells your boss you are eager to learn.
11. Ask what metrics you will be reviewed on at the end of the year. Understand what the expectations are by asking for that score card. I learned this after my first year working at Macy’s. Had I known the criteria I will be reviewed on, I would have made sure to focus on it.
If you’re a new employee, I hope this short 11 Tips has helped you plan your performance in the next 3-6 months.
Comment below, especially if you’re a manager, and let me know your other tips for excellence.