Many new employees feel as though their first few months on the job are a time to slowly acclimate to their new surroundings. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Today’s employers expect new hires to fit in and begin contributing quickly. In fact, in a survey by The Creative Group, executives said it takes just 45 days, on average, to determine if a new staff member is well suited for the role.
If you have just started a new job, or are about to, don’t rely on your supervisor to help you adjust to the work environment. Instead, take proactive steps to obtain the information and resources you need to succeed. Following are some tips for fitting in fast:
Clarify expectations. Within the first couple of days, meet with your manager to discuss your responsibilities, immediate priorities, and how your position fits into the company as a whole. Also, ask how performance will be evaluated and request feedback several weeks into the role to make sure you’re on the right track.
Take note of the work ethic. One company’s idea of hard work may entail fielding instant messages 24/7, while another may expect you to only be available during set hours. Spend some time observing when employees generally arrive at and leave the office, and whether your colleagues or boss accept calls or respond to e-mails from home. Also, get to know your coworkers’ and manager’s communication preferences: Is e-mail, instant message, or in-person communication preferred? Adopt these unwritten company rules as your own.
Make friends. While you want to get to know everyone on your team, pay particular attention to those you’ll need to rely on heavily. Reach out to project leaders and other key influencers, colleagues with whom you’ll frequently collaborate, and potential mentors who can share with you the secrets of success in your new workplace. If you’re working on a particular group project, consider asking your team members to lunch or coffee. Iit’s an opportunity to get to know them on a more personal level and learn how you can most effectively work together.
Mind your meeting manners. There are unofficial guidelines that dictate proper decorum during group gatherings, too. Pay attention to how meetings are run (with a formal agenda or as a free-for-all) and whether or not attendees use laptops, PDAs, or other mobile devices. Also, take note of how vocal participants are expected to be, and prepare some speaking points if necessary. You don’t want to be caught of- guard should your boss ask for your input on a new internal company initiative or business growth strategy.
Offer ideas when appropriate. Even if you have an innovative idea for overhauling the firm’s web site or developing a social-media strategy, wait until you’ve established a credible reputation and rapport with your colleagues before proposing a change.Your first priority is to earn people’s trust. Once that’s been established, colleagues will be more open to your suggestions.
Even those who are a good fit for a particular work environment may find it difficult to adapt to a new company’s culture because the clues can be subtle. By taking time to note the distinctions, you’ll not only start your new job off on the right foot, you’ll also demonstrate your professionalism.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing advertising, marketing, creative and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com. Follow The Creative Group at facebook.com/thecreativegroup or twitter.com/creativegroup.
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