Seize the day

16 Jun 2010

Day one in a new job can be a stressful experience, often made worse by thoughts such as ‘Did I oversell myself at the interview?’ or ‘Am I really going to fit in here?’.

Jane Downes, a personal and executive coach with Clearview Coaching Group, says it is important to put these fears into perspective. “You wouldn’t have got the job if your new employer didn’t feel you are good at what you do. There will always be that inner saboteur saying ‘you’re never going to do it’. You just have to remain calm, focus on the task at hand and, above all, keep things in perspective. It’s a job and you’ll do your best, which is all you can do.”

Being introduced to new colleagues can be awkward, but again Downes advises on keeping calm. “Just relax and focus on listening. On your first day, suss out the preferred style of communication. In some offices, it will be very relaxed; in others it will be more formal.”

If you are unclear about a new task you’ve been assigned, don’t make the fatal mistake of letting hours or days go by without doing something about it. Downes’ advice is to ask questions, but check first if your boss or colleague has time to answer them. “The main thing is that you’re not coming in all guns blazing and arrogant; you have to earn trust and credibility,” she says.

As regards what to wear, most people will have assessed the dress code at interview stage. “Regardless, I would always advise people, if they can afford it, to invest in a good suit and give themselves a fresh start in their new job,” says Downes. “Think of it as dusting yourself off.”

The first lunchtime can be uncomfortable — do you go it alone or wait for an invitation from new colleagues? Either way, Downes says you shouldn’t read too much into how included or not you feel in the lunchtime routine on your first day.

“It might take people time to get to know you a bit better. Also, remember that your colleagues have their own stuff going on. Use the time to gather your thoughts, or meet a friend to talk about how things are going.”

One common mistake for new employees is actually getting their start date wrong. It’s far from unheard of for people to turn up for work a week early, or worse, to get a call from their new employer wondering where they are. Even more common is new starts arriving to work late. If you’re unsure how long it will take to get to work in rush hour, do a dry run before you start.

When it comes to mingling with your fellow workers, chat to people, but don’t get involved in negative conversations — particularly about the company, management or colleagues. It is your first day after all. Likewise, don’t expect everything to be done the same way it was in your former company and don’t criticise it if it isn’t.

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