Tips for making a good start
There are so many things that might be useful to know or do when you start your new job. Being able to focus on the right ones from the start can make sure you get off on the right foot and settle into your new role quickly.
Employers often see the first three months in your new job as an extension of the interview. In fact, many jobs have a formal probationary period, so the pressure is on to establish yourself in your new role and fit into your team or department. What are some of the things you can do to make sure you’re successful?
1. Introduce yourself
Say hello to everyone. Introduce yourself and ask people their names. Take the initiative to say hello to other people in the same work area, or in the elevator in the morning, or in the kitchen when you’re getting a drink.
2. Find out where the kettle or coffee machine is
Related to point one, knowing where to find the kitchen or pantry is a good strategy for success. The kitchen is a great place to have informal conversations, and it’s a useful way to find out the office’s ‘housekeeping rules’, i.e. Who washes the dishes? Which fridge should you use? Which shelves are communal? Should you bring your own cup?
3. Get to know your manager’s and colleagues’ expectations
Whether it is a formal meeting or a semi-formal chat, use that initial time with your supervisor to establish what they think success will look like in the first weeks and months.
4. Ask lots of questions
The quickest way to find out how things work is to ask. Learn as much as possible in the first week. If you hope to make changes in future, you need to first understand how things are usually done, and you need to earn your colleagues’ trust.
5. Write things down
You’re often being told so many pieces of information when you start, that it’s easy to forget things. Write everything down. Even if it seems quite a small, trivial piece of information, in a few weeks time you might need it. If you haven’t written it down, you may be wishing you had!
6. Watch and listen
Pay attention to how everyone else in your team communicates and behaves. This is your first insight into the culture of the organisation you’re working for, and you’ll need to adapt to it. For example:
- How do colleagues’ dress?
- How do people like to offer new ideas?
- How do team mates challenge each other constructively?
- What is the protocol for taking personal phone calls or browsing the internet for non-work related reasons?
7. Share your knowledge and expertise
Sit in on meetings when you’re asked to, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Offer your thoughts in your area of expertise, so you can begin to establish yourself. It may seem daunting at the start but in the end, your colleagues will know who to come to in the future. Be careful not to tell people how to do things though - especially in the first few weeks!
8. Find out where to get lunch
This is another great way to make good connections with your colleagues. Find out where’s good to eat, and what are the best places. You’ll likely find you get an invitation to join them for lunch.
9. Update your social media
As you establish more relationships, cement them by connecting on LinkedIn or Twitter. Be careful which platform you use though, and keep it professional to start with. Remember, Facebook is a personal platform for many people and they may not want to connect there.
Do any of these tips surprise you?
Do you have any top tips you’d like to share?
Post your ideas in the comments section.
We’ve also created a blank template that you can use to record your action plan for the first week. Download the template below and save it to your portfolio. If you are unable to open the template, we have provided an alternative in PDF format.
© British Council and The University of Sheffield