Congratulations! You got a new gig. Now the real fun starts. You want to make a great impression with your new colleagues, but how?
The first month is a critical time when co-workers, superiors and subordinates alike will size you up and develop opinions about you and your role on the team. Don't let that rattle your nerves though. Just be yourself … and avoid these four common mistakes that turn people off faster than you can say, "When do we get paid?"
Mistake No. 1: Comparison syndrome. We've all worked with people who can't let go of the past. They say things like: "At my old company we did it like this," or "My old company had a totally different way of doing that."
Of course things were different. That's a given. But when you note it out loud for everyone, it starts to sound like you're implying things were also better where you used to be. And eventually your co-workers will start to wonder: "If you like your old company so much, why not go back there?"
You might think you're being helpful, sharing a bit of your background and bringing the best work methods of your old employer to your new one, but your co-workers won't see it that way – at least not at first. Sadly, many are looking for reasons not to accept you into the fold. By constantly comparing your old home to your new one, you create an "us versus them" mentality, where you're on the outside. You continuously remind people that you're new to the tribe so it's easy to keep you in that status.
Mistake No. 2: Being overly eager to show your stuff. Yes, you got this job for a reason. You obviously have the right skills and experience to bring to the table. Clearly, someone believes you have something meaningful to contribute to the team. But don't get too excited about jumping in with both feet right away. Take it slow. Get to know your teammates. Observe the team dynamic. Figure out your place in it.
When newbies come in and try too hard to immediately prove themselves, it creates a dramatic shake up in the environment. You begin to feel like an agent of change, which creates discomfort and worry in those around you. After all, change of any kind (good or bad) is hard for almost everyone.
Remember that this team has had an established way of working without you. Sure, your presence will eventually make it a better, stronger and more effective team, but ease yourself in. Get to know the recipe before adding your secret sauce. While you may indeed be just the change this team needs, remember the old adage about boiling frogs: Turn up the heat in the water too fast, and they'll jump out. Do it slowly and they won't know what hit 'em.
Mistake No. 3: Being a know-it-all. There's nothing worse than someone who comes into a new environment thinking they have all the answers. Certainly you know what you're doing – to an extent. Even if you've worked this exact same job in this exact same industry, you're still at a new company and working with a new team. Things are different. Your expertise is not what it was.
The team has a whole host of experts with skills you have yet to discover. Respect that. Your experience, knowledge and capabilities will have the opportunity to shine in the future, but don't force it early on.
Instead, let your new teammates teach you. Ask questions, get curious and explore with a beginner's mind. This doesn't mean you should fake ignorance, of course. But make yourself a sponge for new information. There will be a lot of it in the early days … if you're open to receiving it.
Mistake No. 4: Expecting immediate results. It takes time to see the fruits of your labor. A new job is stressful enough; don't put unnecessary pressure on yourself to "earn" your pay in the first 30 days. This is your opportunity to lay the groundwork. Set yourself up for success by learning the ropes, developing strong relationships and gaining a real understanding for the business. Once you've established a solid foundation, you'll be in a better position to create the results you desire.
While you may have the urge to hit the ground at warp speed, take a breath. Most of these mistakes are ego-driven. We all want others to respect us and recognize our value immediately. Trust that this will come with time. Release your ego and approach your new job with measured enthusiasm. Your new teammates will appreciate it and you'll enjoy more productive relationships as a result.
Chrissy Scivicque, the founder of EatYourCareer.com, believes work can be a nourishing life experience. As a career coach, corporate trainer, and public speaker, she helps professionals of all levels unlock their true potential and discover long-lasting career fulfillment.