Tuesday, May 31, 2016

3 Things to Avoid as a New Employee

By now, many recent graduates have hung up their bedazzled mortar boards and have begun their first days as new employees in a brand spanking new career.

When you're a new employee, you may be excited and scared, or a little or both. That's perfectly natural, and most of the other more experienced employees will understand and cut you a break.

Until they don't.

I wish I could consult my magic ball and tell you exactly when that might be, but every workplace is different. Some may be patient and give you six months to learn the ropes. Others may give you six weeks. Some really tough places may only give you six days.

This may make you nervous, or you may thrive on the challenge.

But I can tell you that no matter where you work,  there are some things that you should avoid to keep you from being labeled as "clueless," "worthless," "spoiled" and even "stupid" by your new colleagues.

Among them:

1. Always having a cellphone in your hand. Millennials have gotten a bad rap as self-centered and self-involved because they're always taking selfies ("Look at me crossing the street!") and easily distracted ("I love goat videos!"). So when you're constantly engaging with your phone, instead of your co-workers, you get an immediate strike against you. Keep your phone out of sight unless you are going to use it for work ("I can look up those measurements on my phone, if you'd like.") You may feel this is unfair since your coworkers seem to be constantly using their phones, but go easy in the early days. Let your colleagues see that you're interested in listening to what others have to say, not just passing the time playing "Flappy Golf."

2. Not taking notes. You're not in school anymore, but you still need to take notes. Always keep a note pad and pen handy, and take notes whenever someone is giving you directions. When you're done, quickly go over the highlights to ensure you recorded the information accurately. Nothing bugs coworkers more than to have to tell you something more than once simply because you didn't write it down to reference in the future. It's also seen as a sign of respect -- you respect your colleague enough to write down what they're telling you, and that again helps them avoid labeling you as a snotty new kid.

3. Failing to ask questions. Yes, it's important to listen, but it's also important to ask questions. You were hired because you were believed to be the best person for the job.  That means your employer has already invested in you (it costs thousands of dollars to recruit and hire every worker), so they want you to feel comfortable in the job. The time to ask lots of "dumb" questions is now -- not a year from now. Then, your colleagues are going to be a bit pissed to learn that you've never understood the billing system and have been bluffing your way through it. Throughout the day, write down your questions so you can ask them at one time and won't be a source of constant interruption. (Unless your question is something like: "Who do we call when the break room is on fire?")

Finally, remember to use your manners. Say "please" and "thank you" even if no one else does. Don't leave a mess for someone else to clean up. Don't interrupt when someone else is speaking. Don't check Facebook when in a meeting or text a friend when a colleague is giving  a presentation. Use your common sense and just think of how you'd like to be treated, and your first job will be a much more rewarding experience.

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