When you land your first job it can be a very daunting prospect but a very exciting one at the same time. You know there’s going to be lots to learn but you are more likely to be unconsciously incompetent to the world of work and office etiquette.
If you are new to the office environment then here are some tips to help you survive the first few weeks or months and get your career off to a great start.
1. Dignity & Respect in the Workplace
If you are working in a corporate environment then this point is very important. If the organisation has an HR department then it is likely equality at work will be taken very seriously and you’ll probably be expected to go on some sort of training workshop or on-line course to ensure you understand why and how to comply with dignity and respect in the workplace.
Telling jokes or teasing people at work will not be viewed favourably and could get you into a lot of trouble even if you consider it “harmless” fun. It’s best to understand how to behave at work very quickly as this will set the foundation for the rest of your career.
2. Professionalism & Integrity
If you are just starting out in your career and plan to stay with one company for a few years or even planning to be promoted a couple of times before moving on – then start as you mean to go on. If you start with the attitude “I’m only the office junior” or “I’m only an apprentice” then your self-image will affect your behaviour and actions and you’ll always be viewed as the office apprentice. Take pride in your work and take time to produce highly accurate assignments.
3. Build a good relationship with your manager
The two main reasons for leaving a job hasn’t changed much over the last few years – lack of progression or a bad relationship with your manager. Your manager has a lot of influence over your career, performance ratings, salary increases and any progression or promotion in the future.
Building a good working relationship with your manager is one of the keys to your success in the job. Don’t wait to be asked to pick up new tasks. Keep your manager informed about what’s going on at all times otherwise if they find out by other means it could be embarrassing and will affect the trust you’ve built up and your position in the company.
4. Strive for work life balance
Start as you mean to go on in a new job. If you continuously turn up very early and leave late – I promise you won’t get any extra thanks for trading in your social life. You may think you’re doing the right thing and showing your commitment and keenness. However, doing long hours at work can sometimes have the opposite effect – giving the impression you are not able to cope with the workload during “normal” office hours.
It’s unhealthy to focus all your time and efforts on and in the workplace. Of course there will be times when you have to be flexible and stay behind to meet urgent deadlines and honour late requests from customers. However, try to discipline yourself to work hard during office hours and get real good at prioritising. Remember to fit the little tasks around the big tasks – otherwise you’ll get distracted with the small tasks and have not time left for the bigger projects.
5. Learn how to say no
This is a really tough situation particularly if you are the new person. It seems almost impossible to say no to any request. The secret here is not to agree or respond immediately – don’t say yes or no and don’t make any commitments. Give yourself some time to either check with your current manager or if possible assess the amount of work and time involved with this particular task and balance with the other priorities you have on your desk at that time.
In my first HR Recruiter job I learnt very quickly to manage the client’s unrealistic expectations in the first discussion or meeting. The Head of Talent Management would say it’s better to have that difficult conversation at the beginning of the process. It’s a bit like that saying – over promising and under delivering and no one wants this scenario. The Head of Talent Management was right it’s a very difficult conversation if you have to go back to a client or colleague and say you’ve not been able to complete the task regardless of your good intentions.
6. Be inquisitive
When you’re new to the workplace or you’re new to the job don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge existing processes or procedures once you’ve got settled in. There’s a quote doing the rounds on Facebook – the most dangerous phrase in the workplace is “We’ve always done it this way.”
Find out what other people do in the team and business to get a rounded view of how the business works. Check with your manager if it’s okay to conduct interviews with senior managers or department heads. This is a fantastic way of finding out about the business and building relationships at the same time.
7. Train, learn and develop
Take full advantage of in-house training programmes – take ownership for your own learning and development. Of course the larger organisations will have training and development teams with learning academy’s already in place. Again don’t wait for your manager to suggest you go on a particular course or training workshop – sign up and make the most of the learning available. If you attend a workshop it’s another great opportunity to build relationships with other people in the business – so make the most of the coffee breaks to talk to your colleagues.
8. Take a lunch break
I’ve lost count of the lunches I’ve skipped in the last decade. Again it’s not healthy to work without a break and you’ll find yourself making more mistakes, getting tired, getting annoyed and irritable easier. It may even cost you some valuable relationships in the team. Socialising over lunch with your colleagues is a great opportunity once again to build relationships at work – this is good practice because there will be lots of occasions when you will need their support or help.
9. Make friends at work
I’ve always had the old mindset that you don’t mix work and pleasure. However, times have changed and will again I’m certain of that!! Research now shows that having just one friend from work can increase your happiness at work. It builds your alliances with colleagues and strengthens your bond. So go ahead make some friends from your workplace.
10. Your health comes first
Just to summarise some of the points already made – having a healthy and balanced life style will positively contribute on everything you do in life and work, and will positively impact your emotional, mental and physical health.
So make time for friends and family, spend time on hobbies and make time for those important events outside of work. Eat well, sleep well and exercise regularly – surveys have indicated all these elements do have an effect on your performance at work.
You also have the right to be safe from physical harm while at work. As a result, if you suffer an injury while on the job, you could be eligible for personal injury compensation. Your claim will cover things like the cost of rehabilitation, additional medical equipment, and lost earnings while you recover. In these situations, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer who specialises in employer’s liability insurance claims. An increasing number of people now hire no win, no fee personal injury lawyers when making this type of claim because it eliminates much of the financial risk involved.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.
photo by: personalwerk