After the hustle and bustle of job searching, interviews and offers, day one in your new job can often have you feeling like Harry Potter on his first day at Hogwarts. You’re not sure who’s who, what you’re supposed to be doing and whether you’ve made a terrible mistake.
Take comfort in the fact that even the hotshots can feel a little bit apprehensive in the early days. High expectations and a little frisson of nerves and adrenaline is normal, plus there are some sensible steps you can take to meet the challenges.
Office politics Until you’ve figured out where the power bases and the political alliances lie, it’s usually best to avoid being too outspoken. Confidence is fine, arrogance is not. There may be perfectly valid reasons behind the organisation’s structure, norms and decisions, and while a fresh view can bring a new perspective it doesn’t pay to march around offering your opinion on everything from company structure to quality of work.
Team dynamics We humans are complex creatures, and it takes time to get to know people and establish your place in the team. Don’t make any snap judgements about colleagues – that quiet artworker in the corner may well turn out to be a great friend and teammate, while the lovely lady from accounts who made a real effort with you in the kitchen turns out to be the workplace whinger.
Don’t assume Every business is different and it’s better to ask what might feel like a silly question than to assume something and get it wrong. That’s not to say you should wander round interrupting everyone with a constant string of questions though, so don’t overdo it. A notebook is your friend and helps you to avoid asking the same question twice and triggering an attack of buyer’s remorse in your new employer.
Mind your manners Creative environments made up of digital, design, marketing and communications people often involve fruity language but do be careful about yours until you settle in, particularly if you were the person responsible for single-handedly filling the giant swear box in your last job. The same goes for your dress code. If in doubt, slightly over-dress. This is not the time to show off your new spandex pants, however cool you think they are.
Schedule catch ups Minor misunderstandings on both sides about what is expected of the newbie often crop up in the first couple of weeks. Make sure you’re on the right track by getting regular feedback from your line manager.
Buddy up It’s hard enough getting to grips with a new job without having to fathom out what the ‘coats on chairs’ policy is, where the toilets are, what people do for lunch and other routine housekeeping matters, which is why employers often assign a buddy to new staff. If that’s not the case seek out a friendly face or two and ask their advice.
Take your time You need to soak up a lot of information and overload is commonplace whether it’s a new role or you’re stepping into someone else’s shoes. Understandably you’ll be keen to contribute and add value, but your new boss will understand that you need time to settle in and should cut you a bit of slack. Within reason of course, there are only so many times you can rely on the phrase ‘I’m new here’ to get you through an awkward moment.
The first few weeks or even months can be seen as the honeymoon period during which you build strong foundations for success in your new role. Follow our simple tips and reassure your new boss about the great hiring decision they made when they signed you up.