A friend just landed a new job! Woo-hoo!
She phoned with the good news and then asked this question, “Do you have any tips for how I should act my first week on the job?” Ha. Of course, WG has tips. Weirdly, they seem to all be negative–what not to do. Hmmm. Anyway, here they are:
Don’t be late. Are you thinking, “Duh”? But being late that first week brands you as a tardy person. You don’t want this. Even if you are on time every day for the next YEAR, some people will still regard you as the kind of person who’s not on time. It’s not fair but first impressions take ages to live down. So be absolutely sure to be on time while you’re still the newbie.*
Don’t talk too much. That first week, focus on looking and listening. You are getting the lay of the land. Put yourself in receptive mode for a bit. It’s amazing what you can learn while your mouth is shut.
Don’t criticize the “way things are done.” Even if you can clearly see inefficiencies, stupidities, or worse, hold off before pointing out the error of your new co-workers’ ways. People do not appreciate some new person coming in and telling them they’re doing things wrong. Especially when they’re doing things wrong. Even if you were hired expressly to identify and fix problems, spend that first week looking and listening (see above).
Don’t establish alliances. It is too soon to reliably know who are the upstanding, smart, and sane ones and who are the whining, backstabbing, and bullying ones. Treat all overtures of friendship with kindness, yes, but also a little bit of distance. And if someone is too friendly, beware. This may very well be the person who is on the outs with everyone else, or who is in some way a problem.
* Weirdly, once you’ve established a reputation for punctuality, you can actually be late from time to time and it won’t hurt you. Not that you should, of course.