It’s the recurring nightmare that shouldn’t be. First day in the new job, the office door swings open and there you are. The music stops, heads turn to stare at the new kid on the block. Of course, that’s not what actually happens, it just feels as though it does! So how do you cope with that important first day? How long does it take to fully settle in? How can you make the best possible start? Here are some tips to help you.
Don’t sweat the first day!
It will take time to settle into your new position, so don’t fret too much about the first day. It’s fine to be nervous and feel out of your comfort zone. Be professional but be yourself (that’s who the company employed after all). Take ‘baby steps’ to start with, until you are more familiar with the contours and culture of your surroundings. It can take between three and six months to fully settle into a new job, so don’t worry too much about day one. Following some of these simple tips may help speed up that process.
Make an effort
Meeting your new colleagues is important and so is making the right first impression. Make the effort to introduce yourself in a polite and professional way. And try and remember who you have met, to avoid that embarrassing “Yes, we spoke yesterday!” moment. If you are a manager, make the effort to talk to all of your team as soon as possible, it really helps to get them on side and will make your job easier. Also, offering to make a round of tea can go a long way.
Work on your “who am I” pitch!
It’s the question that you will be asked more than any other “who are you?” and it’s worth thinking about the answer! Something about you and something about your role is a great place to start. You can add a fun fact to help make a good impression and make people remember you. “My name is Helen, I’m the new director of HR and I really like chocolate cake. Remember the cake part, the rest isn’t important”. Remember to smile!
What are you trying to achieve?
A really good tip is to be clear about what you are trying to achieve. It will help you work out what (and who) is important, in those pivotal first few days and weeks. It will also help others understand who you are, how they can help you and how you can help them. If you can summarise what you are trying to achieve in a single sentence, there is a good chance you will actually achieve it.
Ask questions and give people a good listening to!
Unless you are endowed with telepathic abilities, the best way to understand how things work and learn more about your new surroundings, is to ask questions. People will respond well to you taking an interest in them and being asked sensible questions. Make sure you listen to their answers and take notes if it helps. Use phrases like “You said ……….., that’s really interesting, tell me some more.” Taking notes can help show you are listening and make the person feel valued.
Coffee and cake – The office rituals!
Settling in is about getting to understand your new environment and the informal office rituals are an important part of this. Dress-down Friday? Wednesday morning cake? The coffee kitty? There will almost certainly be a ritual, understanding it will help you become one of the team. And if there isn’t, why not suggest starting one?
Get to know your boss!
Your boss is arguably the most important person in your new world, get to know them! Do they like long or short meetings? Do emails, phone calls or face-to-face communications work best? Are they a detail people or do they just want the summary? Early in your relationship you can simply ask these questions (but again, make sure you listen to the answers!)
Remember to breathe!
With all the new things to learn and work to be done, it can be easy to forget to breathe! Make the time to get up from your desk and take a short walk. Take a break when you need one. And breathing? The NHS have some great breathing exercises to reduce stress, 3 minutes of your day well spent!
Remember to smile!
A smile goes a long way and as Psychology Today reported, the act of smiling “benefits your health and happiness” and can “transform you and the world around you.” It helps deal with stress and let’s face it, smiling makes you feel good. Just do it!
Starting a new job can be stressful, but with the right approach, it can be great fun too. Remember, everyone was new once. We hope these tips help and we hope you settle into your new job easily.