Success during week one is about balance: you want to make great first impressions, but you shouldn’t put too much pressure on yourself to get everything right. The goal is to learn about your new workplace and feel out your place in that ecosystem.
In the first week:
Introduce yourself, relentlessly. Studies have shown that anxiety in new situations can come in part from not feeling confident in how to introduce ourselves. It’s a natural feeling — when you’re new, you don’t necessarily want to call attention to yourself. But in the first days of a new job, you want your enthusiasm to shine through. So, find the timing that feels right and give a quick, energetic introduction to the people you don’t know yet.
If meeting new people is particularly important to you, you can enlist the help of others. Mention to your manager that introducing yourself is a priority for you and ask for a list of people you should get to know. In meetings, you could ask the organiser to give you some time at the beginning or end to introduce yourself.
Here are some ways to ease into your introductions:
- Prepare your opening lines ahead of time so you have a script at the ready when you encounter a new face.
- Pay attention to your surroundings and other people. Don’t interrupt a meeting to introduce yourself or speak too loudly in communal spaces. As you’re introducing yourself, take note of how the other person is reacting. If they seem distracted, keep it short. If they seem receptive, you may want to get to know this person better. You can make a great first impression by making someone else feel heard.
- Do your best to remember names. You can do this by saying the person’s name back to them and writing down a quick note about them when you part. Don’t get overwhelmed by needing to remember everyone’s name, though. If you forget someone’s name, honesty is the best policy: “I’m sorry, I’ve been taking in a lot of new information over the last few days. Could you remind me of your name?”
Ask well-timed questions. Research has shown that new employees perform better when they ask more questions. By asking your leaders and peers for new information, you’ll get up to speed quickly. But in your first week, you want to find the right time to ask questions. Here are some guidelines for how and when to ask:
Think about what you want to know. In some cases, you may need permission, while at other times you may need advice or validation. If you get specific, you’ll be better able to ask and less likely to waste time.
Prioritise the information you need. For example, if you can’t get your computer or access badge to work, that’s something you need help with immediately. If you’re not clear on the quarterly goals for your team, you can probably wait to talk with your manager about that over the coming weeks.
Write down your questions so you don’t forget. You can raise these questions during a one-on-one meeting with your manager. You should learn your manager’s preferences: Do they want to be asked questions via email or in person? If you have a lot of questions for one person or group, consider setting up a meeting rather than stopping by their desk or office. In the meeting invite, you can list out the questions you have. This gives them time to prepare responses.
Seek out a friend. Once you’ve made some introductions and have a sense of who you’ll be working with, ask a new colleague to lunch or coffee. It could be the person sitting next to you or another newcomer who started at the same time. Developing a trusted relationship will make you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know this new workplace. In fact, research has shown that having social ties at work can make us more productive.
During this first week, you may not find your best friend or develop a deep relationship with anyone. But seeking out someone you can relate to even in the short term will provide some needed stability.
Learn how to navigate and enjoy your new workplace. Locate the restrooms, the coffee and water, the stairs and elevators, where you can eat lunch and take breaks, and seek out any other amenities this workplace offers. If you haven’t been given a tour, consider asking a colleague for one.
In this first week, you may also want to experiment with your commute: finding the right times to leave home and testing different routes or transportation methods. Identifying and establishing the routines early on will give you peace of mind.