February is now here and it appears that we are one month further removed from the worst recession this country had seen in over 50 years. Employers have begun hiring in earnest and Department of Labor numbers showed that over 150,000 new jobs were added in the private sector through the end of December 2010. And all this hiring means that many of you find yourself in all new working environments, with new job responsibilities, new co-workers to get used to, and general company practices you have to become familiar with. Take it from me….now is the time for you to carve out a long-term relationship with your new employer by employing some common sense and workplace etiquette.
Most people starting a new job will err on the side of caution and take time to learn their new setting well. However, there are still some of you who falsely believe that your new company hired you for your great individual traits and encourage you to be you! Your company hired you to effectively integrate with their existing systems and processes while being able to complete prescribed tasks and functions in a timely fashion. That’s what they really want out of you. So to avoid getting off to a poor start, focus on how you conduct yourself while at work. Here are a few examples:
1) Be sure to dress for success and not the nightclub. Conservative is typically better to start. Remember, once you’ve established yourself as a great hire you can begin testing out new wardrobe choices;
2) Learn more about your company’s business and less about your co-worker’s business. Being friendly is good. Being too interested in gossip and other non-productive issues is not;
3) Choose your words carefully! Every environment is different. Don’t assume the language you used before will be acceptible with your new employer. Watch and listen to others so that you have an accurate assessment of what works;
4) Avoid pity parties. Inevitably every workplace has it’s share of complainers. Don’t get sucked in to conversations with co-workers that are looking for somebody to vent with. You don’t need this type of association….especially when first starting out;
5) Minimize those smoke breaks! The law of averages says that 1 out of 4 people at your company is a smoker. You may be one as well. There’s no law against it but be sure that your need to smoke doesn’t give the impression that you’re not getting enough work done;
6) Follow the 80/20 Rule. This means that you should be listening 80% of the time and speaking the other 20% of the time. Don’t be that person that comes in talking a mile a minute. You will come across as a “know it all” and typically will alienate yourself from co-workers that way; and
7) Always leave your personal baggage at the front door. No matter what issues or mishaps you are dealing with at home, be sure to never bring them into the workplace. Personal issues lead to distractions and distractions lead to a lack of focus. Probably not how you want to start a new job.
Ultimately, you were good enough to get hired in by your new employer. That should be celebrated and not taken lightly. Now you should focus on creating a stable, relatively secure position for yourself by doing the job you were hired to do, AND showing some good judgment while you’re there. Good luck and leave the short skirts and silk shirts in the closet for now!