3 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a New Job

You’ve made it through the hiring process, landed the job, and you’re ready to get started. You may be thinking that the hard part is over; now that you have the position secured, you’re eager to get down to business and actually do your job.  

But before you get too comfortable in your new work environment, you might want to know some of the crucial mistakes that new hires often make that can derail their hard-won new position.  After all, in the first weeks on the job you are a blank canvas, and those around you are excited to see what you can do. 

Beware these three ways you can inadvertently turn that blank canvas into an eyesore instead of a masterpiece:

Ruining the Image

As the new member of the team, your coworkers don’t yet know what to expect from you.  They’ll try to form an image of you in their minds based on early experiences and interactions with you.  That image can be attractive or unattractive depending on what you give them to work with.

For example, if you’re late on your first day, spend time on personal calls, or blow off your orientation and training courses, the image of you might quickly become “Portrait of An Employee Who Doesn’t Take the Job Seriously.”  If your colleagues see you cozying up to the boss for personal gain or engaging in gossip, you might be painted as “Study in Untrustworthiness.”

To avoid making this mistake: be scrupulous in your professionalism, timeliness, and grooming.  Be aware of how your actions, words and intentions may be perceived by others and manage yourself accordingly.  Be yourself, but realize that you are being observed; make sure you’re being the best version of yourself.

Making False Assumptions

It can be easy to assume that you know what is expected of you in a new position; after all, you’ve read the job description, had conversations with several people on the team about the job during the interview process, and you’ve got orientation materials to help you out.  But there is nothing more important to your success in the role as being on the same page as your manager.

Other assumptions can get in the way of your success also: assuming that you understand the culture, assuming you know everything you need to for the role, and assuming that your professional relationships are productive.  All of these take time to learn and develop, and making assumptions will only slow that progress.

To avoid making this mistake:  clarify, observe, ask questions, and adjust your assumptions regularly.  Make sure the expectations of you and your role are crystal clear between you and your manager.  Ask questions, ask for help when needed, and get feedback from others where appropriate.  No one expects you to know everything from Day One, but the team will expect you to adapt and learn as quickly as possible.  

Expecting Hand-Holding

As you come up to speed in the new role, it is reasonable to assume that you will have questions and need some assistance from your manager and coworkers from time to time. However, if you sit back and wait for everything to be explained to you, people to be introduced to you, and for others to tell you what to do, you’ve missed an opportunity to showcase why you were hired for the position in the first place.  The rest of the team is not there to hold your hand.

To avoid making this mistake:   take a proactive approach to your own integration into the organization.   Introduce yourself to others, don’t wait for them to come to you.  Jump in and start contributing to the team; ask questions when needed but don’t overly rely on your colleagues for help in doing your job. Decide what you need to do and learn, and take it upon yourself to then go do it.   

You want to start out your new job right, be successful, and impress your new manager and coworkers.  By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be on the right track.  You can prove yourself to be an aware, thoughtful, professional and proactive member of the team – a rising star who can be counted on!