By Larry Buhl
Congratulations, you landed the job! The hard part is over, right? Not exactly. Your first few weeks in a new company are crucial -- they can determine whether your future is paradise or purgatory. And we're not talking only about mastering the technical aspects of your new job. How you behave in your new work environment is just as important -- if not more so.
So when you start a job at a new company, avoid these seven deadly (or at least career-killing) sins:
1. Ignoring the Culture
"Our company asked 250 advertising and marketing executives what the greatest challenge was for those starting a new job, and four out of 10 said it was acclimating to the corporate culture," says Donna Farrugia, executive director of CreativeGroup.com. How much should you socialize? Do coworkers prefer phone calls, emails or face-to-face conversations? Dress shoes or sneakers? Many aspects of a company's culture can be subtle and easy to overlook. Instead, observe everything. "Come in 30 minutes early and stay a little late just to observe how people behave -- when they get their coffee, where they take their lunches, how they wrap up at the end of the day," Farrugia says.
"Companies can set up new hires for this by treating them, when they're hired, like they're saviors," says Sue Edwards, leadership team coach and president of Development by Design. "As a result, they sometimes come in and insist on doing everything their way, because they're supposedly so brilliant." Instead, listen and learn. Take time to understand the company and how things work before you decide to be a maverick.
3. Hiding Out
The flip side of arrogance is timidity, which hunkering down with your own work can look like. Instead, build relationships from the first day. "Take the time to network with your colleagues by having informal conversations to learn what others do and how it affects you," Edwards says. "It's also a good way to learn the culture."
4. Not Clarifying Expectations
When you don't know what's expected of you, it's hard to deliver. Instead, meet with your manager to discuss the responsibilities of your position and how success will be measured. What are the priorities? How should you provide project updates? How will your performance be measured?
5. Refusing to Admit Mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, and new hires make plenty. But don't make the mistake of thinking that if you don't admit them, nobody notices them. Instead, accept ownership, learn, make the correction and move on.
6. Rocking the Boat
Implementing changes before you get buy-in from others -- and before you understand why things are done the way they are -- can lead to jeers, not cheers. Instead, keep an open mind. Fully understand the current processes and procedures before proposing your changes (if you find they're necessary), so you can make a good case for why they should be made.
7. Not Asking for Feedback
You don't have to wait six months or a year to learn how you're doing. In fact, waiting that long could put you, your team and even the company off course. Instead, ask your supervisor for a brief meeting after one month. Discuss what you've done right, where you've hit some snags and how you can make corrections.
You Can Turn Vice into Virtue
Beginning a new job is never easy. If you know you're prone to one of these sins, stop and turn that knowledge into a virtue -- before it's too late. "Remember, nobody knows you on your first day," Farrugia says. "You want to make a lasting impression, but be sure you stand out for the right reasons."