You did it. You succeeded through rigorous rounds of interviews, proved your qualifications and earned yourself an offer for a good job with a good company.
In reality though, the battle is just beginning. Even with an impressive track record, new employees are often accompanied by a degree of uncertainty and thus need to be proactive in earning the respect of colleagues and superiors by proving themselves in the trenches.
With that in mind, let's take a look at a few strategies that newly hired employees (at any level of the hierarchy) can deploy to do just that.
1. Quantify results. Odds are you were hired to solve a problem so naturally the most critical factor in earning respect is quantifying how you are systematically making that problem go away. This requires clarifying expectations with management early on, so your focus is directed at driving results that matter to the company. Once expectations are clear, being able to simply explain how you're adding measurable value (whether through lead generation, sales, support, etc.) is fundamental to earning your stripes.
The problem though is that a lot of new hires stop here, assuming respect is a product of performance alone. It's worthwhile noting that the most highly respected individuals at a firm don't just drive results, but also supplement their own prodigious performance by adopting some of the principles listed below.
2. Make your colleagues' lives easier. Sure, you may be a top-flight doer but you can amplify your reputation by simultaneously helping others elevate their performance. For example, perhaps you can recommend a new piece of technology that streamlines processes and vendor management, such as HubSpot in the marketing world. HubSpot provides all-inclusive software for analytics, content/client management, email and much more.
You could also pursue this strategy by tutoring colleagues in your area of expertise. For example, someone in the IT department might earn respect by giving non-technical colleagues a lesson in time-saving Excel hacks. Yet another way to make your colleagues' lives easier is to proactively improve workplace conditions. "I learned this lesson when I was 13 years old," says John Paul Engel, president of management consultancy firm Knowledge Capital Consulting. "I worked in a kitchen and there was grease an inch thick under the counters. It was disgusting. I stayed late and worked until the kitchen shined. Pretty soon I was promoted and winning company awards. Before I left that restaurant I had worked every job."
3. Make others look good. Terrell Owens was an exceptionally talented NFL wide receiver who played for the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles. However, he garnered negative press coverage for bad-mouthing his teammates. Forbes placed him on its list of "America's Most Disliked Athletes" in 2012. The lesson is that even if you're the business world's equivalent of a Pro Bowl player, you still might not earn respect if you're a jerk.
By contrast, if you can not only perform at peak levels but generously share credit with your collaborators when it's due, your reputation will likely advance beyond colleagues who have spectacular technical skills but who hoard praise for themselves.
4. Take a genuine interest in others. If top performing new hires show no interest or appreciation for those around them, there might be respect for their work but no respect for the person. Therefore, to earn respect in the workplace, you need to give it as well. This idea was quantified by Christine Porath, assistant professor of management at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business. Porath conducted extensive research on the topic with Christine Pearson, professor of global leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management, for the forthcoming book "Mastering Civility." "In our research, one of the most important ways that we've learned people earn respect is by listening," Porath says. "Listening is essential for creating, maintaining and deepening relationships: it signals caring and commitment."
With that in mind, new hires can build respect by getting to know co-workers and what they care about without ulterior motives. This genuine interest can not only help establish a mutual rapport but also provide a better understanding of the issues facing your workplace. You can then potentially use your skills to lighten the burden of those challenges.
5. Learn the unwritten rules. Every office will have customs, traditions or tendencies that aren't found in any official corporate collateral, and a new hire can prove both sharp and competent by picking up on them quickly. "You may discover that your team members meet for coffee in the cafeteria 20 minutes before work and you could fit in more quickly if you joined them," says Joseph Kotlinski, partner at staffing firm WinterWyman. "You may also find ways to lose favor with your bosses by not paying attention to the culture. If, for instance, a VP uses a conference room on most Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. even though it isn't on the schedule, don't book a meeting in the same room at 8:45 a.m."
Bonus strategy: Consider bringing in doughnuts or other treats periodically. While there is little scientific evidence that this strategy will earn you respect, positive associations tend to abound for those who make a stressful workday a little sweeter.
Ben Weiss is the digital marketing strategist for Infusive Solutions – an NYC-based IT staffing firm in the Microsoft Partner Network that specializes in the placement of .NET, SharePoint and SQL Server developers as well as Windows Systems Engineers, DBAs and help desk support professionals in verticals such as legal, finance, fashion and media. Connect with him on Twitter: @InfusiveInc or at Facebook.com/InfusiveInc.