First impressions are everything.
And they’re especially crucial when you start a new job and you’re meeting your new coworkers for the first time.
These are the people you’ll spend a majority of your waking hours with — the people you’ll team up with on projects, sit next to at meetings, each lunch with on the regular, and maybe even someday work for or manage.
“You only get one chance to make a first impression, and like it or not, it counts for a lot,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job.” “How you conduct yourself in the first few minutes — or even seconds — of meeting someone can have a profound impact, and when it’s your first day at work, you’re being evaluated with a microscope.”
So, it’s imperative that you do whatever you can to make a great first impression to win over your new colleagues.
Here are some easy ways to do that:
Arrive on time (or early)
Show respect for your new colleagues by being on time. This will show them you're dependable and responsible.
Don't be antisocial
The first day can be overwhelming. If you're shy, you may be tempted to just hide behind your computer screen all day -- but don't!
Don't wait for your new coworkers to approach you. Take the initiative and introduce yourself to everyone you can. They will appreciate the effort and it's a great way to meet people right off the bat.
Try to remember their names. Go back to your desk and write them down if you have to. Everyone will be impressed if greet them by name in the elevator the next day.
Don't do all the talking
Ask questions and listen. It's easy to talk a lot about yourself on your first day since you're the newbie and nobody knows anything about you. But let your new colleagues get a few words in. Show them you're interested in getting to know them as people by asking questions -- but don't cross any lines.
For instance, you won't want to inquire about who they're voting for in the upcoming election, or ask when their baby is due (before they ever tell you they are pregnant).
Don't bother the busy-looking ones
If someone looks busy -- maybe they are on a call, or in a serious conversation with another colleague -- don't interrupt. You can go introduce yourself or say 'Hi' later on.
Also, you'll have lots of questions your first day (Where's the restroom? How do you turn on this computer? What time do people usually come in?) and it's fine to ask. But don't bother someone with these queries if they seem busy or deep in thought.
Ask them to coffee or lunch
As you meet your new colleagues, ask if they'd like to have coffee or lunch with you sometime soon.
Don't turn down invitations to lunch or coffee
If someone else invites you to coffee or lunch, accept! If they suggest a day or time that doesn't work for you, it's alright to be honest and ask to meet at a different time. But never turn down the invitation.
Express how excited you are to be joining the team
Employees can feel threatened by new people. Even if you're harmless, it can happen. So be sensitive to this and express how excited and grateful you are to have the opportunity to work with these brilliant people. Of course, you need to be sincere -- but if you mean it, say it.
Show your commitment
Demonstrate your interest in helping out, going above and beyond, and working hard, Taylor says. 'You don't have to become a martyr for the team, but make sure they know you have their backs.'
Figure out how everyone likes to communicate
If everyone uses Slack all day, or people tend to talk in person, you should know that from the get-go.
Don't be a know-it-all
This is a good rule to keep in mind all the time, not just your first day of work. But it's especially important when you're first meeting your new coworkers.
Offer your help
Volunteer to help your coworkers with key projects, even if the project is not yet on your to-do list. 'If you're caught up on your own work, let your peers know that you would be glad to assist them,' she says. 'Your reputation as a team player will quickly spread. Pay it forward.'
Be extra accessible
You may be tempted to get to know your new office, or new neighbourhood. But don't wander off for hours at a time, assuming nobody will need you. Be accessible.
Whatever you do, don't complain on your first day. You may be trying to be funny or feel like an 'insider,' but it will only hurt your reputation in the long run.
'It's easy to find coworkers who want to commiserate,' says Taylor. 'But this will only set you back as you're trying to create a solid reputation for yourself at work. Stay out of the 'whiner zone.''
Maintain a positive attitude and if and when others come to you with complaints, don't just agree because you desperately want to bond. (Perhaps these are the people you don't want to be friends with.)
Be polite and say something like, 'Well, I've only been here a few hours so I haven't witnessed it for myself yet!'
Take interest in their roles
Find out what each person does at the company. Ask questions about their role, and show that you're interested in learning more.
If you're invited to attend meetings, participate.
'Your peers will appreciate any contributions you make, versus your taking a back seat at ... even if it's just your first day,' Taylor explains.
Don't goof off
You may be intrigued by Pokémon Go and glued to your cell phone during work hours, but this will make a bad impression on your colleagues who are counting on you. It is called the 'workplace' for a reason, Taylor says. Use your breaks, lunch, and after work for non-work related activities.
Avoid trying to impress
Sure, participating and contributing ideas and offering solutions are all things you'll want to do your first day, but don't go over the top by showing off.
'It can be tempting to try and flaunt your skills set when you're not yet situated in a job. But that is usually transparent to your team members in your early days at a job,' Taylor explains.
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