TIP TUESDAY: 10 Things to Do Your First Month on the Job

{excerpted from an article by Rueben Westmaas at Curiosity online}

After months of searching and interviewing, you’ve finally landed a job you’re excited about. In a couple of weeks, you’ll be meeting your new coworkers, striving to make a good first impression, trying to fit in with company culture, hoping you don’t look like a jerk to your new boss ” whew, that’s a lot to worry about. So take a look at this definitive guide to what you should do in your first few weeks at a new job.

10. Network, Network, Network

Almost everyone agrees: The most important thing to do is to network with all of your new coworkers. If you’re a new team leader, that’s doubly important. Also, remember that those connections you make don’t have to just be with people in your department ” develop relationships with Sales, IT, and/or other department(s) to set your roots deeper and expand your horizons quickly.

9. Be Upfront and Honest, but Positive

A good attitude is contagious, and as executive coach Mark Strong told Business Insider, “We all know that first impressions matter. Smile when you meet new people and shake their hands. Introduce yourself to everyone and make it clear how happy and eager you are to be there. Your coworkers will remember.” But don’t let that positivity cloud your judgment of any challenges you or the company is facing ” your peers will recognize it if you are putting lipstick on a pig, and you’ll lose a measure of trust as a result.

8. Develop Specific Plans Early

You don’t want to jump in and start changing everything right away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything until you have a complete grasp of the company. Look for small, innocuous tasks you can perform to improve the ways that things are done ” set up the coffee machine every night, for example, so the first person in can just press a button for hot joe. Or look at some of your specific tasks.

7. Identify Your Wins

Great news! Your make-coffee-the-night-before plan (or perhaps your send-a-weekly-memo-instead-of-fielding-endless-questions plan) is paying off, and things are running a little more smoothly with you there. And you shouldn’t let your coworkers and managers forget it. Don’t constantly boast about your successes, but be sure you take ownership of your early improvements. There might not be a better way to cement your reputation as an efficient take-action type ” and that reputation will follow you as you move up in the company.

6. Find a Buddy

Even if you’ve been in the business for 30 years, you’re going to find that people at your new office do things a little differently ” okay, a lot differently ” than they did at your old place. Find a work buddy (not your boss!) whom you can talk to when you’ve got a question about a pretty basic concept. If you ask a manager or one of your team members, you might inadvertently come off as unqualified.

5. When in Doubt, Clarify

That said, one pitfall you absolutely don’t want to stumble into is having such a fear of looking incompetent that you end up being incompetent. If you aren’t clear on the chain of command, which individuals are responsible for what, or how a particular piece of software works, it’s always better to ask for help and clarification instead of faking the knowledge.

4. Pin Down Your Expectations

You know what would be awful? If, after 10 weeks at your new job, your boss’s boss came to your desk to ask about a project you had never heard of in your life. Make sure you know what your key performance indicators are ” not just what you or your team think they are, but also what other people in the company expect from you. It’s best to find that out now and avoid future miscommunication.

3. Get and Stay Organized

This is partially about making a good impression and partially about staying on top of your responsibilities. A messy desk can send a very clear message to your coworkers, and even more so when the only thing they know about you is that your desk is a hazardous waste site. It might seem like just a cosmetic issue, but one thing you absolutely don’t want to happen is losing an important document in your early days with a company.

2. Learn How and Why They Do Things

When you start, you might find yourself confused or even frustrated by some of your new workplace’s processes. You might even feel tempted to change them all ” and maybe you should. But before you do, find out how they started doing things this way, and why. You might find that the process, no matter how unwieldy or inefficient it seems to be, is, in fact, the best way. Of course, once you’ve learned the hows and whys, you might see a much better method. And that’s where the last tip comes in.

1. Identify Growth Opportunities

Improving a poor process is a great way to make your mark on a company. So is introducing a new digital tool, or devising a more effective communication strategy. In your first month at a new job, keep your eyes peeled for pain points that could be transformed into something less painful. Just remember not to step outside of the chain of command or make a major change without bringing it to the people who need to know first. Improve enough, and you might find yourself in an even newer job ” one with a corner office.

If you