The Right Way To Show Up For A New Job

Written by Mike Shapiro | | December 14, 2017

You’ve got a new job. Do you go in with high-energy, looking to make an impact early, or do you lay low, watching and waiting. Frankly, the extremes of both approaches can get you labeled as obnoxious and a person to be “dealt with.” Remember, your main objective is to make people want to get to know you and to work with you. Respect the honeymoon period for what it represents. People don’t expect much of you in the way of results right away. But they do expect you to do certain things that ONLY new employees can and should do. You’re only going to be new for a short time. Take advantage of that time for these critical new-employee actions:

Learn how things get done. Every company has unwritten rules about how things get done — conventions, do’s and don’ts. A company culture. Pay attention to see how it’s done at your new workplace.

Start talking to people before you have something really important to say. You’ve got to let people hear you speak so they get used to the way you express yourself. Be prepared for folks to misunderstand you in the early going. Don’t wait till you’ve got something really critical to bring up. Relationships are built on sharing information. Pave the way with small steps.

Ask (a few — but not too many) questions. People tend to be on the extreme ends of the question-asking spectrum. There are the Strong Silent types, who would rather die than ask anyone anything. Then there are the Question Machine types, who make a nuisance of themselves asking questions. Think first, and aim for the golden mean of asking good questions at appropriate times.

Introduce yourself. At some point, it’s going to be just too late to say Hello to that person you’ve been nodding at every day in the elevator. Say Hey, and do it soon.

Find out who knows what. There are informal subject-matter experts in every organization. When you get an assignment, there is someone who knows something you need to know. When you’re asked to put together a team, you’ll want to know who can do what. Make it your business to get to know the experts.

Give away some good ideas — and watch what happens. Every business runs on ideas — good ones, bad ones and a lot in between. Workers trade them, publicize them (with and without giving credit), improve them, advance them, kill them. Put some good ones of your own out there and see who does what with them.

Abandon “Good Boss/Bad Boss” expectations and delusions. There are lots of articles out there about what to do when you get a “Bad Boss.” Folks, there are few if any Bad Bosses or Good Bosses. This habit of judging, evaluating, Like’ing everything — a customer experience at a bank, the teaching skills of a college professor, the leadership demonstrated by your direct supervisor at work — is a waste of time and actually kind of arrogant. They’re all just people, doing the best they can, succeeding and failing, moment by moment, just like the rest of us. If you’re reporting to someone, make it your business to learn from their strengths and help them when they don’t act the way you think they should.

Starting a new job can be stressful. But those early days and weeks are a critical time for laying the groundwork for what you hope will be a successful experience. Have a plan and make the most of the limited time you’re the new employee.


Keep in mind that long-timers can and should be looking to you for new ideas and inspiration. See our earlier post The Happiest People At Work And What You Can Learn From Them.