How to Make an Impact At Your New Job

So, you’ve got a new job. Congratulations! You passed the tests and interviews, survived the nerve-wracking wait for your phone to ring and are ready to start your first day and prove that you’re as good in real life as you are on paper. Now, if only you understood the culture, the communication and the internal systems your new team uses. Luckily, I have some tips on how to make those potentially bumpy first weeks a bit smoother.

1. You know nothing, and that’s OK.

When I started working at my current company, I knew nothing. The first days were overwhelming. I had to understand how to report my work, get up to speed with company’s direction and communicate with my manager. In short, all its internal communications. But internal communications is also what separates one company from another and can be fascinating. Mastering it can make also mean the difference between 9-to-5 paper-pushing and embarking on an exciting, meaningful work experience.

2. Read the workplace.

The culture and climate of a company plays an enormous role in making sure your place of work makes you happy. If it falls short, you’ll be more likely to explore other opportunities. But if the environemnt feels like the right fit, you’ll be much more likely to stay for the long haul, earning back the initial investment the company made when hiring you. You owe it to all parties to honestly assess your surroundings.

3. Be a self-starter.

When starting a new job, it might sound logical that your manager or colleagues would show you the ropes and explain everything, but it’s important to understand and adapt to as much as you can on your own. And fast. Take this seriously. No one at a busy company has too much time for a confused newbie.

4. Make a quick splash.

I joined my current company at an early stage, meaning that its culture and values weren’t written in stone. That can be both good and bad. On the positive side, I helped set up our internal communications. On the down side, that significant a project made my first few months more challenging.

Micheal Manning, President of innovation agency Rocksauce Studios, notes that it’s worth enduring the ups and downs in order to leave a lasting mark on company culture. ”When you observe a practice or attitude that could use an update, offer a specific solution or plan of action,” he writes. “Before you present it to your superiors, however, find out whether similar initiatives have been attempted. If so, how were they received?”

After all, while new hires are expected to deliver a fresh perspective, you can’t just start pointing out things you don’t like. You have to do your research first.

5. Size up your boss.

If you are lucky, you’ll have a manager like I had at the outset, a leader who understands that she must do everything in one’s power to get an employee engaged and feeling needed. The first thing a good manager does is establish open communication and an atmosphere of trust. And while it is not a silver bullet that guarantees success, it makes starting a new job much easier.

6. Earn trust.

At the same time, don’t forget that trust is a two-way street. While you are trying to understand your new co-workers, they are trying to get to know you. As writer and HR professional Ronda Suder observes, “Your first 90 days on the job are often treated as an extension of the interview. That means you should use every interaction to prove that you’re a respectful, professional and diligent worker, but also someone who your colleagues will enjoy spending eight hours a day with.”

It will take time for you to start working as a team, trust each other and communicate well. Starting a new job might seem scary, but the rewards from finally fitting in will be worth it.

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