Jack spent seven months finding a new job, only to lose it two months later. Jack had a history of not making it through the probationary period, and attributed it to "bad bosses" and "unreasonable expectations." Each of his past managers, however, would tell you that Jack's problem was that he had failed to understand and fit into the company's culture.
Unfortunately, sometimes new hires do "get off on the wrong foot"-make a bad start-in a new job. The origin of the phrases getting off on the "wrong foot" or "right foot" may have come from the military, where soldiers all have to start with the same foot in order to march in step. Similarly, in a new job, it is essential to walk in step with the company's way of doing things in order to fit in and be successful in the new position and organization.
Ten Steps to Job Success with your New or Current Employer
1. Dress appropriately. Lasting impressions are formed in those first few weeks, so pay special attention to your grooming. Be clean, neat and dress according to the company's explicit or implicit dress code.
2. Arrive early and work a full day. Show up for work a few minutes early, and don't rush out at the end of the day. Consistently demonstrate that you are going to give them their money's worth in terms of your presence and participation in the organization.
3. Communicate in a positive, energetic and enthusiastic manner. You will be most successful when you are characterized by being pleasant, optimistic and happy to be in your position. Leave your problems at home; don't complain or bring other negative emotions with you to work.
4. Learn and use people's names. Before you begin your new job, review the names and job titles of people you have already met. On your first day, greet them by name. Make it a priority to meet and learn the names of your co-workers and people whom you encounter.
5. Become a student of the organization. Make a file for notes on key people, contact information, policies & procedures that are important for your position, as well as random pieces of information that come your way that you think will be helpful to you in doing a good job. In addition, seek to acquire information about the company (newsletters, articles, annual reports, and other resources) that tell you more about what the organization is doing and where it is heading.
6. Take initiative to serve within the organization. In addition to doing well at your assigned responsibilities, look for opportunities to be of service in other ways. It may be as easy as signing up to bring a dessert for an office party, or doing something that will require more effort such as volunteering to do a task others have avoided. (In the case of the latter, always check with your boss to make sure that he or she is supportive of your doing the new task, and that it won't compromise your productivity in your primary responsibilities.)
7. Check in with your boss regularly. In the first week, check in for a few minutes each day or two with your boss. (Depending on the culture of your company, these might be scheduled meetings or informal conversations.) This is a time for you to ask questions, and get your boss' feedback on what you have been doing. These meetings give you critical information about your performance early on. You can find out if you are performing according to expectations, or if there are any changes your boss would like to see you make in what you are doing or how you are doing it. (Most employees do not initiate getting this type of feedback, so you will stand out by soliciting information on how to improve your performance.)
In the first month or two, check in at least weekly for a few minutes to make sure you understand his or her priorities for your tasks and performance as well as to ask any questions that you may have. After this, checking in every couple of months will help you know how you are doing and whether you should make any adjustments in your work.
8. Study your boss. Get to know his or her preferences and personality. For example, does he like to make small talk before diving into a business discussion, or consider it a waste of time and prefer getting right to the point? If you tailor your interactions to his or her preferred communication and work style, you will be viewed more positively.
9. Get to know the organization well before offering suggestions for major changes. Proceed cautiously when you see things that you think should be done differently. Before voicing your opinion, ask questions and listen carefully. Find out why something's been done in a particular way, or why something has not yet happened. You want to avoid offending or disrespecting someone, or otherwise inadvertently stepping in some landmine of company politics.
10. Be an asset to the entire team. Show appreciation for those who help you induct into organization; be trustworthy by not violating confidences, gossiping or badmouthing anyone; look to help others regularly; praise others and share credit; make your boss look good; speak well (or don't speak at all) about your department and/or company to outsiders.
Who's the Boss?
Whether you are in a new job or have been in your position for a while, you will do well if you remember and live out the words of the Apostle Paul, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving" (Colossians 3:23-24).