The excitement of being told you “got the job” and then actually starting it is quite a scary prospect. We have so many thoughts racing through our heads – Can I really do this job? Maybe I am not as qualified as I thought? How will I make sure people like me? How am I going to survive this?
The reception you receive from your employers should anticipate these feelings. After all, the organization has spent good money hiring you and should treat you as an investment to be nurtured and encouraged. In reality, however, you are likely to receive an induction or orientation which can be anywhere between two extremes: In at the deep end – expecting you to get on with the job without any real welcome or information or Overwhelming – providing you with an avalanche of introductions, site tours, information packs, etc. Where do you begin?
An employee’s perspective
First thing you must do is arrive on time. Being late for your first day of work would not start you career with the company on a good note. Most employers will allow you to have some familiar items around you – like family photographs, as they realise that people find that they relax more quickly if surrounded by such personal memorabilia.
The real you
Like waking up in hospital with amnesia, starting a new job is one of those rare situations where you’re obliged to meet many unfamiliar people, some of whom may hold the keys to your future well being and success. In these situations, it’s always best to present a positive and outgoing personality. In some ways, your co-workers are clients – here, they are buying your personality. Now is the ideal opportunity to develop whom you would like to be seen as – Grumpy or Sunshine! The choice is yours!
Building your reputation within the organisation begins the minute you walk in the door. Relax be yourself! Part of charming people is being aware of who someone is, how they see themselves, what they do and what they can do for you. It is also remembering the constant flow of new faces. This is the hardest part. Many time people say, “but how am I supposed to remember all the people I have just met?”. Well, that is the point. It is not up to you to remember them but more for them to remember you. Concentrate on associating names with faces and with roles in the company from the very start. After a short time, all these details will become unconsciously associated with one another and you won’t even be aware that everything has fallen into place.
Getting into your new role
Your duties and responsibilities would have been discussed in detail before you even started, and you would have by now, a contract in hand. However, if you find yourself stooped over the photocopier for much of your first week and you’re certain that you did not apply for photocopying job, have a few words with your boss before everyone takes advantage of you. Yes, you should be accommodating, charming and pleasant, but don’t let people mistake this kindness for weakness. If you feel that your time would be better spent doing something else, say so firmly and do so early.
But, do keep in mind, that many companies look at how good a team player you are, so they may “test” you initially, so be prepared to help out when you see others need help, be the first to offer the help or make the coffee. This will be the beginning of building and forging the new relationships.
Get to know your team
When getting to know the rest of your team, ask what your new employer offers in the way of perks and benefits. Although grasping and selfish on the face of it, it is a valid field of enquiry and many people will enjoy conspiring with you. There may be special deals on gym membership, a subsidised bar and canteen and any number of extra-curricular activities. Discuss these with your new friends over lunch (don’t even think about going to lunch alone in your first few days). Ask about the informal as well as formal rules of the department, how the internal system works. This will go a long way to letting your colleagues know that you are ready to participate as a full member of the team.
Your team members will want to get to know more about you as well so you’ll need to be prepared to introduce yourself. You want to sound spontaneous, but figure out in advance who you are, what you have done and what your responsibilities will be. No one is expecting long drawn out stories of you and your family but more the highlights – things that you would like your new team to know. Being hesitant and mumbling a few words will not win much confidence – dive right in. say what you have to say, be ready to answer questions keep it light and interesting. As the days go by, ask them about themselves too.
The induction programme
Within your first few weeks in your new job, your employer will, or should at least, send you on the organisational induction programme. This is where employers ensure that the new member of the team feels welcome and happy to be with their company. Induction programmes are needed to familiarise you, the new employee, with your new role, with the areas of the organisation and also with the other staff members.
Your first few weeks at work are important – both to you and your employer. Make the most of them, set your standards now and start as you want to continue – a valued, dedicated employee who has fit well into the new department and the organisation – a new employee whom the company says, “This was the right choice”.
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