When Beginning A New Job

A new job always presents an exciting opportunity. It often means a better salary, working conditions and lifestyle. Sometimes, though, it’s best to start a new job cautiously. It can be filled with anxiety and confusion and become one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. It need not be.

If you simply take time to understand your environment, your job, and the people you will be working with, you should enjoy a smooth transition. The following guidelines will help you move successfully into your new position, make you look good on the job, and ensure that your first few weeks are a pleasant “honeymoon” for you and your new employer.

The honeymoon

Each organization plays a different version of the same game, so don’t panic when even simple things seem difficult. Set out to know your work environment and the position that has now become yours. You should become familiar with the facilities, tools and means available as well as understand what your supervisor, co-workers and subordinates expect of you.

Begin orienting yourself to your new surroundings. Use your first few weeks to get used to the feel of your new job, and the people you will be working with.
It’s important to move carefully and slowly during this honeymoon period. Ask questions and listen more. Review your predecessor’s records. Observe, study and learn how things are done and by whom. Find out what specific support is available to you.

As appropriate as it may seem, resist the temptation to reject your predecessor’s plans and forge ahead with your own ideas. Instead, make your agenda appear like their unfinished business. The purpose is to clearly and completely understand what you’re dealing with so that any change brought about by you will be most effective and perceived as fair. During this initial time, make certain to observe all company rules and follow proper business etiquette.

For example, don’t drink alcohol during the day, no matter what colleagues do. Be conservative and moderate in everything except your enthusiasm for your work and support of others. If you have to vent some of your energy and enthusiasm in getting started, allow yourself to be aggressive with your production, work ethics, and goals.

Honeymooning with your boss

When you have your first meeting with the new boss, ask her to clearly define her expectations, your specific responsibilities and the limits of your authority. Early on, seek to develop rapport, and ask for continued feedback and constructive criticism so that you can learn to be effective. Make a special effort to understand her needs. Work doubly hard to make sure you meet them.

Many people have trouble saying “no” to special projects or requests that they may not be able to complete. Make sure that you do not accept them. Do whatever you said you would do – regardless of how insignificant it may seem. You do not want to be viewed as someone who does not keep his word. If you say you will be somewhere at 7:30 AM, be there ten minutes early. If you agree to look over a proposal, or return someone’s phone call, or turn off the lights when you’re done, you should make a written note to yourself and keep it viable until you’ve fulfilled your commitment.

It is a good idea to make certain that your boss knows whether you welcome specific advancement opportunities. Let her know if you are open to learning specific skills. Tell her whether you are willing to tackle additional responsibility in the areas that will help you advance. You should also work with your new boss to establish standards of performance, which will prepare you for your next advancement. After all, this new job could be a stepping-stone to another promotion.

Honeymooning with your co-workers and subordinates

For the first week or two, it will be to your advantage to focus on the “people side” of the business. Set out to meet people on a warm, personal level.

As the “new kid on the block,” employees around the office will be watching you closely. Be particularly mindful of your attitude and behavior. Smile whenever you greet someone. You are the one exploring new territory.

Peers will want to adjust to your style of management, so you should try to be consistent in everything you do. Because you have the potential to create problems and reduce their control of the environment, they may note your mistakes more readily than your successes. Be patient. If you work diligently, professionally and courteously, your co-workers will come forward with respect, warmth and acceptance.

Start as a team player by working to develop rapport and supportive relationships with co-workers and subordinates. Let them know that you are there to support their success. Make an effort to praise them at every opportunity. You can show positive interest by learning about their history, hobbies and outlook. If you have relocated, seek your new colleagues’ advice in finding resources and amenities. This shows people that you value their input. Once again, try to remember to be consistent in your behavior and style in order to allow others to grow accustomed to your personality.

After the honeymoon

The key principal to a successful job honeymoon is having conservative behavior and attitudes. Focus on understanding who and what you are dealing with before the honeymoon is over. When you begin your job, your goal should be to take full advantage of this initial orientation period so that you can move ahead with maximum effectiveness.

The article above was written by construction recruiter Frederick Hornberger, CPC, president of Hornberger Management Company in Wilmington, Delaware (www.hmc.com), a construction recruiter specializing in senior level, executive search.