Written by The Insights Team on 29 Aug 2017
We all know we never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Of course, first impressions are rarely more important than at work. Getting them right can set you on track for long and lucrative working relationships. Getting them wrong can make your life unnecessarily difficult, right from day 1.
So, beyond the essentials like dressing-the-part, turning up on time, a positive handshake and maintaining attention and good eye contact, what should you be doing to get your new role off to the right start? These things are worth thinking about because successful performance and relationships on one assignment can go a long way to securing future work.
The typical new hire will listen to instructions and do what they are asked to do. But with a little extra effort, you can be far more helpful and create a far better first impression. It comes down to understanding not only what you are supposed to do in your new role, but also understanding why you are being asked to do it.
So, during your briefing sessions make sure you’re asking and understanding why you are needed to do what you are doing. With clarity on this motive, you’ll be able to deliver at a higher level.
To illicit this kind of information, you may want to ask questions about the recent past for this project, so you can understand the big picture and the challenges your team is working to overcome. Find out what has been working well and what the major difficulties have been so far. This way, you’re displaying the intent to not just show up, but to show up and work to the benefit of everyone. Listening and questioning with intent shows you care about making a difference and it also ensures you’ll be working on doing exactly the right things.
In any role, there will be a number of people you’ll be working with. Figure out your new ‘ecosystem’. How does the team operate? Who is in charge? A good way of doing this is to ask how you fit into the wider organisation. You’ll likely have working relationships with team members and maybe additional interactions with a wider network too.
Good teams will look out for the new starter. But don’t be shy to take the initiative to strengthen relationships yourself. It only takes simple things, like stepping up to take your turn on the team coffee or tea round or inviting your team members to lunch. Seemingly tiny moments can make all the difference from jumping in early on the tea rota, bringing birthday cakes, or volunteering to help a project team under time pressure. Try joining in with these little things and watch how quickly you’re welcomed into the heart of your new team. A final tip is to be interested rather than trying to be interesting. If you show interest in your team mates you’ll learn what you have in common and how you can best fit in.
You’ve been hired to do a specific role. Doing it well, and doing it on time, will be your best way to get off to a flying start.
Few things will count against you as much as showing up late in the early weeks. Being on time to arrive and on time with your deliverables is the simplest and best way to demonstrate your competence, motivation and dependability. Of course, emergencies and accidents happen, but do your best to avoid any intrusions into your work time. Bad reputations are too easily earned. Do yourself a huge favour by being on time to start and on time to get your work done. If you’re having problems, speak up early rather than later. If you build this solid reputation for dependability early on then, should you ever have an emergency, it’s far less likely to count against you.
Too often, new start announcements are made to the team without the right level of detail. Don’t be shy to share a simple 1 or 2 paragraph biography to the right person. This will make it easier for them to introduce you to the team.
A smart formula for this is to share a little about your work history with most emphasis on your most recent position. Of course, don’t brag, but don’t be shy to highlight a couple of big projects or successes. This will be helpful for your new team because it will give them conversation starters with you.
Finally, add a paragraph or a few personal bits about yourself. This could mention your family and children or it could be about a hobby, sporting or charity event. Any of these things will help start conversations with your new team. Ideally, your work history part should show them that you’re bringing valuable skills and experience to help the team, while the personal elements will form bridges to help you all connect personally.
It’ll only take you a few minutes to write these short but it will help them give you a great introduction to the team and get your new role off to the best start.