First of all, congratulations on your new role! You’ve secured the job, navigating the morning commute and now you’re settling in. Starting a new job is like starting a new relationship… well in a roundabout way, you kind of are. You’ve been on a few dates (interviews), you’ve seen where they live (office tour) and you’ve probably scrolled through their social media to find out as much as you can about them (stalker). We all know the basics, practice commutes, getting there early, familiarising yourself with work policies… but, beyond the obvious, we have a few other tips to take into consideration to make sure that you get off on the right foot:
It may feel like a no brainer but take it upon yourself to actively get your name and face out there. Maybe don’t interrupt people at their desks but if you happen to catch them in a lift or by the coffee machine give them your name, the department you sit in and a firm handshake (don’t overdo the firm, we’d like to keep our knuckles). It will exude confidence in yourself but also show that you are making a conscious effort to immerse yourself into the team and environment (and not rely on other people to forge these relationships for you).
Getting to know you
Learning the names of your team is easy because you will see them most often. Most company sites will list the names and faces of their employees (if not, LinkedIn will do), use this to familiarise yourself with the people you are less likely to interact with. If you forget someone’s name, be honest about it. If it’s a senior member of staff and you don’t want to ask them directly, ask a trusted colleague for help.
It’s also worth taking time to interact with your colleague’s in a non-work environment. Whether that’s an out of office lunch or drinks after work, it’s a great way to get to know your colleagues more personally. Be polite and personable and, chances are, you’ll have things in common outside of work.
Set healthy boundaries
We’re all a little guilty of wanting to go above and beyond expectations to prove our worth - especially in a new role – it's natural. It’s good to have your workplace boundaries in mind and begin to implement them as early as possible. Boundaries are important to your mental health and wellbeing so set the standard from the get-go. Sure, there will be certain deadlines or peak periods where you may need to make exceptions, but if consistently break your boundaries you may set the expectation that you will always be willing to.
You have a lot to learn and nobody is expecting you to know everything right away. If you don’t know something, it’s always safer to ask than guess, that’s obvious, but maybe don’t ask your line manager every question that pops into your head. You should do your own research too (much of which you will have covered in your interview prep, I’m sure); remind yourself of the company values, play it safe in the company dress code and keep an eye on others and how they might interpret it. If you ask a question, take note of the answer to refer back to. Sure, asking questions is a great way to learn, but if you have been told twice already and you’re asking again it may frustrate your colleagues.
Take more notes than you think you need. Trust us, you will thank us later. In your first few weeks, you’re going to have logins, procedures, access codes, names and much much more thrown at you. It’s going to take a little time to absorb all of this new information and having notes to revise and refer back to is only going to ease the process. For me, the physical act of writing something down makes it stick more. As we’ve just mentioned, it’s likely you can find some of the answers yourself, refer to your staff handbook, back to the notes you’ve been taking or ask a trusted colleague to show you the ropes.
Good time management will come from your ability to prioritise. Keep a list of tasks to be completed and order them by priority. That way, if someone comes to you with an additional task, you can slot it into your to-do list and give them a realistic time of completion – and you can manage expectations by sharing your current list of obligations. As a new starter, you will feel an undying urge to try and please everyone, but it may negatively impact your ability to complete your regular workload. If you are consistently being asked to do things outside of your task list, then it may be worth either raising it to your line manager or telling them no. Learning how to politely say no is a huge part of time management. If you are unsure how best to prioritise your time, you can always ask your manager for help.
Keep a list of accomplishments
Keep track of any positive feedback you have received or any major contributions that you made to projects that you are proud of. That way, when your performance review/probation review comes around you will have plenty of positive things to talk about.
Whether you are fresh out of university, or you have decades of industry exposure, stepping into a new work environment can feel like passing the cupboard door to Narnia. You’re not alone, and this is not a definitive list, but we hope that our top tips help to get you started on the right track.