Twelve Ways to Start a New Job Well
The Power of First Impressions
Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestselling book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking says that a first impression is formed in less than two seconds! Right or wrong, it’s hard to shake that first impression because our minds have been trained to unconsciously make judgments by what Gladwell calls thin slicing. Often we never get a second chance to make a first impression, or overcome the first impression the other person has of us.
Your own experience meeting people for the first time confirms this. Think about the last person you met for the first time. How many seconds did it take you to process the hundreds of impressions you had as a result of observing that person’s body language, shaking his or her hand, and seeing the emotions and intelligence reflected in his or her eyes? In less time than it took to answer that question, you decided whether or not you liked or disliked that person. Such is the power of the first impression.
On a New Job, You’re The Outsider
As a new employee you must remember that you’re entering an existing team of people who have established levels of between one another, and you’re an unknown. In addition, there is an existing group culture (the way that “things get done around here”) that you’ll be expected to fit into. You are the new person who everyone will be sizing up. So expect extra scrutiny of everything you say and do during your first few weeks on the job.
Well-known employment expert Lou Adler confirms that the Number One predictor of success for each new employee is how well that person fits with:
1. The employer’s culture;
2. The existing team of people;
3. The specific role or function to be performed; and
4. His or her direct supervisor.
The purpose of this article is to set forth twelve simple things you can do during your first month or two on a new job (or in a new role) to establish and build a positive impression that shows you’re a great fit.
Twelve Ways to Prove You’re a Great Fit
Every new employee starts out at exactly the same place in the job, since there is no performance track record to view, no known bad habits, and an equal opportunity to excel. Each new employee has one chance to make great first impressions, which tend to be lasting ones.
Here are a dozen ways to positively distinguish yourself and make a great impressions during your onboarding period:
1. Meet people well. This calls for a genuine from-the-eyes smile and firm handshake, holding it just long enough to notice the color of their eyes, as you repeat their name correctly. This approach has been shown to generate very positive emotions in the other person, and cause him or her to have a positive first impression of you.
2. A positive attitude with positive energy. People are always attracted to positive people, folks with a smile on their face and always something positive to say. No negatives, complaining, or whining; just a “can do” attitude. Make certain that what you do say is positive.
3. A positive work ethic. It means arriving early, staying late, minimizing break times, and focusing on doing whatever is assigned, to the absolute best of your ability, regardless of who, if anyone, is watching.
4. Getting to really know the players. Who are the people you need to know, what do they do, and how can you build a positive relationship with them? Learn their names, remember their names, and greet them by name with a genuine smile and positive eye contact. Encourage them to talk about themselves and if you need to, write down the details so you won’t forget them.
5. Minimize the social chatter. To the inevitable, “How was your day/night/ week-end?,” resist the urge to chatter and simply respond, “Great, and yours?” And never gossip, because gossip means that no one will ever trust you
6. Observe how things are done. Every organization has its own way of doing things, and the quicker you can learn this, the better. Do this before you offer opinions!
7. Leave every bad habit behind. You know what things held you back from being an A-player in your last job and an A-player at school. The only person who can repeat or reject those bad habits is you.
8. Model integrity. Always DWYSYWD – do what you said you would do. People who do this build trust and trust is at the foundation of every successful career.
9. Plan your learning objectives. Ask your boss to identify the top five or six things you need to learn and master in your first few weeks, and where best to find what you need to learn. Write them down and develop a plan as to how you will learn them.
10. Keep your boss informed. Ask him/her how and when he/she would like to be updated, then do it. Volunteer for assignments you can do or that will stretch you.
11. Think in terms of company goals. Find out what the goals are, and figure out how what you do can move the company towards those goals.
12. Make no excuses. You will make mistakes, but you should NEVER make an excuse. Your boss will appreciate that you don’t make excuses or the same mistake twice.
You have but one chance to make a positive first impression, and much of that first impression will be under your direct control. Seize the opportunity to start well, from your first moment on the job, and watch as your career path opens up a lot more quickly.
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