I just started a new job this week as a human resources assistant in a busy small office. I’m so nervous and really want to make a good impression. I don’t understand what is going on. I don’t know how to behave. I feel lost.
Please can you advise me on how I can handle new employee challenges and be a successful worker as well.
Signed: Nervous New Employee
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As far as I’m concerned, starting a new job is no less terrifying than starting your first day at school! The difference is that you are now an adult transitioning into a new workplace and job. That is way more complicated. I refer to Denise Bissonnette’s (2004) “30 ways to shine as a new employee” for some fantastic strategies to consider during your first few weeks at your new job:
Understand the workplace culture.
Learn the unwritten rules of your team and company. There are a few behaviours and protocols at your new workplace that you need to know, such as the dress code, the use of equipment (personal telephone calls, the computer), handling food and drink and lunch, supplies, computer stations and more. Discuss scheduling issues. Can you change your schedule for a doctor’s appointment? Ask for the do’s and don’ts in these areas with your supervisor or fellow team. Watch how others behave during your first week. Until you understand the systems and rules, “assume it is NOT okay”, stresses Bissonnette. Assuming it is fine to do something when it is not can get your fired.
Find a mentor.
This is more challenging because finding an advocate or mentor takes time and requires trust. It’s a result of building relationships. If you haven’t been assigned a co-worker to train you, then I would ask the boss. But first make sure this is protocol by watching others.
Worse case scenario, you are on your own. This is more challenging. I would check out the lunch room during your break to see if you can join in. someone training you, all the better. Perhaps you can ask that person all of these questions. Heads up for new employees: before accepting a job offer, find out who will be training you and if the company has this type of system in place.
Make an effort to meet new people.
How you act in the beginning can make or break your job. take advantage of being new and building a positive image of yourself in your new workplace. It’s no different from building your professional brand when you are a job seeker. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Shake their hand. List and learn people’s names. Greet everyone with a smile, even on the telephone. Always be appreciative by saying thank you, accepting praise and don’t interrupt. Think about what you could do to make the team happy.
Don’t try to impress people. Listen more than talk. Show your interest in other people’s concerns. Not just your own. For example. “Hi, my name is Joanna. I just started this week as an HR assistant. If you need any help, let me know. What do you do?”. Make sure the person is not busy or in the middle of a deadline. Make everyone you meet feel important.
Congratulations on your new job. It’s stressful to start something new, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to make the best impression possible.