It is your first day in a new company. If you’re shy, you might find yourself hanging back, trying to blend in with the wallpaper. Watch out! That could lead to you knocking a light switch without realizing it, thus ruining your plan to remain in the shadows. We are all afraid of appearing too eager in the early days, but letting shyness get the better of us can leave our new boss and colleagues with a negative impression––even though we are trying to do the opposite. To avoid this, we have a few guidelines you should keep in mind that will help you to fit perfectly into your new team.
1. The relationship with your superiors: learn how to interact with your boss
Interaction with your superior is not just about obeying orders. The idea is to establish a healthy professional relationship. This will not only improve communication between you and your boss, but also your professional performance and, ultimately, the image that your boss has of you.
To start developing this relationship, the first thing you should do is to observe how your boss communicates with members of the team. See what patterns he follows based at different times––the beginning and end of the week––and the way he relates to his superior. Do this again at the end of the month and at the end of the quarter. You’ll also need to take note of when he is more or less available, and how he reacts to news, whether good and bad.
The more you know and understand your boss, the easier communication and teamwork with him or her will be. As time goes by, the relationship will be more natural and will function like a well-oiled machine. Obviously, you are not trying to turn your boss into your friend, which could generate tension among other colleagues, but to forge a relationship that allows you to be the best you can be in that position.
2. Work on the relationship with your colleagues from day one
Explain your role
The first thing to keep in mind is that, even after you start your new job, some colleagues may not be clear what your role is and how you will be spending your time. This can create a challenge. You don’t want to be perceived as just “someone who works for the same company” but to be a new member of the team.
Preventing this can be as simple as clearly describing your position, your responsibilities and your day-to-day tasks. This can also help to show your new team mates that you are available to them and open to lending a hand if they need it, even if you do not work side by side but on separate projects or in different departments.
Discuss how your relationship with the team will be
To help yourself to settle in faster with your new team and the other colleagues, you can ask how they have been organising things so far. It may not be the way that you were expecting or were used to following in your previous company. Learning how your predecessor used to do things is usually seen as a sign of respect. Later you can suggest improvements if you think they will help.
To help you become part of the team from the get-go, find out what your peers expect of you and your role in the company. In the same way, you can start by discovering what you will need from each of them to carry out your job. Ask yourself how you fit in at the company and work with the rest of the team from the outset.
Strengthen personal relationships
It is unlikely you’ll be able to remember the names of all your new colleagues in the first few days. Don’t be surprised if you get some names mixed up or even draw a blank with some people. It is normal and we all tend to make allowances for newcomers. To prevent awkward situations from happening repeatedly, treat your new co-workers’ names with the respect they deserve. If necessary, draw up a small cheat sheet with their names, titles and distinguishing characteristics. Just don’t let anyone else see it.
There are many more ways to help yourself to fit in by making some small gestures. You could brighten up their morning by bringing something tempting into the office for your colleagues, such as a selection of pastries. Or you could suggest going for a drink after work to get to know them. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with and what you think fits best with the company culture. Is it seen as a fun place to work? Or is it a more buttoned-down environment?
3. Bonus point: pay attention to the dynamics of the company
Although we are all more or less aware of what is expected of our behaviour professionally, this can vary slightly from one company to another. So it is important to pay special attention to the office dynamics during the early days.
It hardly needs to be said that you should avoid behaviours that are clearly annoying for other colleagues, such as clicking your tongue, making noises while eating or drinking, yawning excessively or using your mobile phone with the key sounds activated. You should also pay attention to the following:
- How they greet each other and say goodbye: Is it common to greet everyone upon arrival? Or do others tend to sit down and say nothing until they are on a break?
- How much time do your colleagues usually spend on breaks for coffee or for lunch?
- What do you notice about phone use: Do they usually make personal calls during working hours? Or do they not take their own phones out until they have a break?
Another crucial point is that you have to be punctual especially in the early days. It is always advisable, but even more so when you want to cultivate a professional relationship. Not making the effort to do this can send the wrong message. It shows a lack of respect for your co-workers’ time, which can cause problems with your superiors and make it hard for your colleagues to warm to you.
If you want to make a success of your new role, you should think about your daily behaviour and how you act towards others. Your aim is to fit into a new team, with new bosses and in a different context from what you perhaps had in your previous job. After a few years, when you know them well and they trust you, it might be acceptable to have a bad day and forget to be polite. Not when you are a newcomer. For now, you need to work on becoming part of the team. But don’t worry too much. Be open-minded and show them that they have hired the best person for the job. That way everything will work out fine.
Translated by Sunita Maharaj-Landaeta
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