Starting a new job can be fun or stressful or a mix of both. You’re taking in a lot of new information. You’re trying to remember everything everyone tells you and everything your five senses take in. It can be overwhelming!
I recommend that you bring a notebook around the office with you for your first few weeks on a new job, and that you write down as many notes as you can. You’ll feel better about checking your notebook when you hear something and you think “I heard that before — but it was on my first day at work and I’ve forgotten the details!”
There are certain things that new employees can do and say that will hurt their relationships with their co-workers. New employees don’t mean to step on toes and tick people off, but in their anxiety and insecurity at being the new kid on the block, they can easily say or do the wrong thing.
Here are ten things never to do in a new job!
Compare The New Job Unfavorably To Your Old Job
Everyone hates a newcomer who constantly says “That’s not how we did it at my old company!” If you liked the old company so much, why didn’t you stay there? Don’t talk about your old company — notice what’s different about your new company, and ask questions about why things are done the way they are done here.
Criticize The People At Your New Job Or The Way They Do Things
Every organization is different. Don’t make comments about how backwards or out-of-step your new employer’s procedures are. You will make your contributions to modernizing your organization in time, but not until you gain credibility with your teammates — and you’ll have to earn that through your actions.
Give Unsolicited Advice
Please don’t start a new job and start teaching your teammates how to do their jobs. If they want your advice, they will ask for it.
Trumpet Your Credentials
Few things are as horrifying as listening to a newcomer trumpet his or her accomplishments and credentials for the benefit of his or her teammates who are not already dazzled by the new employee’s brilliance. If your workmates want to know about your background, they will either ask you about it or they’ll check out your LinkedIn profile.
If you are hired into a new job as a manager, that means you have a wider scope of territory to look after than some people do. It doesn’t mean that anyone wants you to start bossing people around or telling them that you are more important than they are.
The surest sign of insecurity at work is when a person tries to boss other people around. It’s unnecessary, it doesn’t work and it marks you as a fearful manager — especially when you’re brand new in the job!
Make Unilateral Changes That Affect Other People
Some people come into a new job and immediately start changing things. You may be dying to let everyone around you know how up-to-date and forward-thinking you are, but the team energy around you (what I call Team Mojo) is more important than racing into “Let’s change everything!” mode. Take the time to gather opinions from your co-workers, your supervisor and any employees you supervise. Their opinions matter as much as yours does.
Lay Out Your ‘Standard Plan’
The worst kind of new co-worker to have foisted on you is the kind who already knows their entire plan before they start the job, because it is the same plan they have implemented at every other job they’ve held. These are cookie-cutter managers who don’t care about the culture in their new company. They don’t care about the company’s history or its specific needs.
They only know one way to do their job and they do it over and over again in different companies. If you manage someone like this, take the time to sit them down and talk about fact-finding and relationship-building. Those things come first. If their eyes and ears are open then their ‘standard plan’ will shift (a little or a lot) with the new information they’re gaining.
Express Ambivalence About Having Taken The Job
Every organization has strengths as well as problems it is working to overcome. No matter how frustrated you get at any moment in your first few weeks on the job, don’t give a long sigh and say “If I had known about that problem, I wouldn’t have taken the job!” even if you are joking. If you didn’t know about a problem that you discovered after starting the job, that can only mean one of two things.
Either you didn’t ask the right questions (good learning for you!) or someone lied to you. If you think they lied to you, you can quit and take a new job. My suggestion is that you take the learning and press on — Mother Nature is the best teacher, after all!
Try To Renegotiate Your Job Offer
Don’t tell your new manager “I didn’t realize I would be responsible for X and Y — we have to renegotiate my salary!” Show what you’re capable of and then talk about your compensation plan.
Give The Impression That You’ve Arrived To Save Your Co-Workers From Their Ignorance
No matter how smart or capable you are, your co-workers were already a team when you arrived and it is your job to fit into the team. After all, you chose them as much as they chose you! Don’t say or do anything to make your co-workers feel that you are the white knight who has ridden in on your stallion to save them from their own stupidity. Listen to them and learn from them. Practice humility. It is a virtue that will serve you forever!
Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace.
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