October 22, 2012

First Week on the Job

Previously, I've written about preparing for your first day on the job. Today we're talking about your first week.

Introduce yourself.  Don't hunker down in your office - get to know your colleagues and staff.  Walk around!  Are they going out to lunch?  Join them.  Grab a coffee.  Find out what they're working on.  What are their biggest objectives?  Do they have any insider tips or things they wish they knew when they started?

Set up your office.  Make it clear you're there to stay.  Set up your voice mailbox and email signature.  Framed diplomas, photos of vacations/kids/pets/spouse can spark conversation with your new coworkers.  I used to have a leopard-print Snuggie and it was the source of much humor.  Much humor.

Prioritize.  What are your objectives?  What do you want to accomplish and what's the timeline?  This is a good time for a 1:1 with your boss, but don't rely on her to figure it all out for you.

Strategize.  How are you going to accomplish your goals?  Who do you need to partner with?  How are you going to build your reputation (in a positive manner) over the next few months?  What do you want to be known for?  What is your ultimate goal?    You don't have to have it all figured out, but get the wheels turning.

Observe.  What are the (positive) societal norms of the organization?  Where/when do people eat lunch?  What is the dress code?

Pro tip:  It's only natural to want to dive in head first and make a big splash (two swimming metaphors in one sentence - ugh) in your first week/month/year.  You want to get in there with your fresh ideas and shake things up!  Slow your roll, bro:  there's a right way to do this, and there's a wrong way.  Wrong way = hitting your colleagues over the head with new ideas the minute you walk in the door.  Right way = taking time to listen and observe what's already in place.  Talk to your colleagues.  People generally don't respond well when you tell them they're doing it all wrong.

Don't get hung up on stuff that doesn't matter.  Some companies suck at preparing for new employees and very few can anticipate your every need.  DO NOT melt down if you don't have a stapler or the exact pens you always use.  If there is something (like special blue pens, not that I would know anything about that particular subject) that you cannot live without, then just bring them!

There will be some bumps.  Ride them out. 

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