Whether you’re brand new to the working world or just getting ready to start a new job, chances are you want to make a great first impression and get off to a good start with your colleagues and manager.
But how do you do that? What’s the best way to start strong?
Here are a few daily habits to adopt to help make you a better employee from the get-go.
Be on time.
This sounds so simple and obvious, because it is! But it’s also something that’s easy to relax away from as you get established in a job. You know how long it takes you to get ready in the morning; set your alarm accordingly and, especially for the first week or so, give yourself an extra 20 or so minutes in case there’s traffic or something’s amiss. This applies to meetings too: Make sure you’re prepared and ready at least a few minutes before one is scheduled to start. If it’s a virtual meeting, have your coffee or water ready to go, any notes you need pulled up in front of you for easy reference and updates highlighted; for in-person meetings, be in the room two or three minutes before it’s scheduled to start. People will see you there and ready and will be impressed. It also shows that you’re reliable.
When you’re new to a job, you might not know everyone’s role right away or their title and responsibilities. You might also not know who has some petty grudge against someone else. Stay out of office politics as long as possible because it’s messy and will be an unnecessary distraction from the work you need to do, plus, it’s kind of childish and unimportant. Stay above the fray and keep your hands clean.
When you come in each morning, create a list of what you need to do. (After you’ve gotten used to the job and get into a groove, start this list at the end of the previous day.) This will give you your priorities for the day and help organize your time better. Make sure you have everything you need to do your job and that everything is within easy reach, staying mindful of when supplies are running low. Keep a calendar within view for easy reference — whether that’s digital, paper or both is up to you, just use a system that works best for you to keep track of important meetings and deadlines. Speaking of which…
Respect and stick to deadlines.
They’re not just for people who work in news! Deadlines are important and provide a sense of structure and timeliness. Start with the deadline and work backward to figure out how to best handle a project. Unless there’s a big problem, do your best to work to that deadline and get things done on time, if not a little early. This will help your team stay on target as well. You don’t want to hold anyone up because you wouldn’t want to be delayed by waiting on someone else. Sticking to deadlines is a sign of respect.
Be as efficient as possible.
When the time comes for you to run a project or meeting, have all your ducks in a row before sharing the details. Come to a meeting with all the pertinent information, including ideas on what people might have questions about and have those answers ready or be prepared to get back to them quickly. When you’re running a project, have the full vision ready to share and explain to your team, point by point, so everyone understands their role and responsibility from the start. Clarity is your friend and it’s the best start you can give your team. Keep your meetings to as short a length as possible — if it can be an email, make it an email!
Be an effective communicator.
This means taking notes during meetings for follow-up questions; writing clear, concise emails; being thorough and detailed without going too deep into the weeds; but also listening and taking a moment to understand the context in which information is given. All of this shows you value your colleagues’ time as much as your own and they’ll appreciate that.
If someone’s helped you out, let them know. If you’ve learned a lot from someone, especially someone you had to rely on more than others as you got started, tell them you appreciate it. If your company has some kind of employee recognition program, submit names and provide information as to how they were helpful. People like being acknowledged for their work!
Put the phone away.
At this point, many young workers feel like they were born with a smartphone in their hands. But work needs to take priority over personal matters, especially in the beginning. Resist the urge to check personal email and social media until lunch, unless your job requires you to monitor social accounts. Work time is for work; breaks are for catching up on personal matters.
Do your best but admit when things go awry.
You’re new. You’re not expected to know everything on your first day. Or you’re established in a position but made a mistake. Humans do that. Stepping up and admitting it is what adults are supposed to do and it shows integrity, honesty and responsibility. Your team will appreciate not having to wonder what happened if you take ownership.
Don’t shy away from saying “I don’t know.”
How else can you learn if you don’t ask for help? Admitting you don’t know something, especially at the beginning, is not a problem! When you’re new to a job, you’re hired based on your background and skills. The expectation should be that you’re going to have questions and need clarification on things. Telling someone you don’t know the answer to something, or you don’t know how to work a particular software or program, is not a shortcoming; it’s admitting you need a little more knowledge and is a sign you want to learn and be an engaged employee.
Ready to find a new job? Sterling Personnel can help!
We’ll spend most of our lives working, and most of our week with our colleagues, so it’s best to start this relationship on as strong a footing as possible. Show up, be professional and dedicated and you’ll do great! If you need a little help in your job search, Sterling Personnel is standing by and ready to find a great new fit for you. Contact our office today and we’ll see which of our partner companies might make a great new home for you!