First Month on the Job: 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do

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Starting a new job can be stressful. On the one hand, you have to learn the ropes and adapt to an unfamiliar work culture; on the other, you strive to make a good impression with your colleagues and bosses. It can be tough trying to balance being an eager learner and being likeable as a co-worker.


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Every action or move you make has a consequence, especially when you are new. In the quest to fit in, try to steer clear from the following ten things you should not do in your first month at work.

1. Being Late for Work

When you’re trying to make a good impression with the bosses and co-workers, it all starts from the first hours of the working day. Being late never sits well with people in the office. That’s why you should always factor in the extra time you might need in case of a traffic jam, an item accidentally left at home, parking woes, or at least until you are familiar with the route (an its alternatives) to the office. This way, you can turn up early for work when your travels are smooth and when you get into unforeseen circumstances, you can still make it to work on time.

2. Being Arrogant or Cocky

Even if you hold a high position in your new job or wish to exert certain influence on your subordinates or peers, the first few month on your job isn’t the right time to appear bossy. Take the time to learn and understand the work processes and culture of the new working environment, while giving your co-workers and subordinates to warm up to you. Besides, you will need this crucial and limited amount of time to figure out the norms of this office before implementing an appropriate management or work style you find suitable in the organization.

3. Posting About Work on Social Networking Sites

In this modern age, information spreads very easily, and yours could spread fairly quickly, and usually without you knowing about it. When you’re at one of the more critical stages of your job, such information could make or break your career. There will always be differences in the working cultures and acceptable norms between the new working environment and the previous working environment. Refrain from posting any comments, positive or negative, on any of your social networking sites for fear of having the wrong person catch whiff of it.

4. Holding Your Silence and Feigning Ignorant

As the new person at your new workplace, you get more leeway when it comes to making silly mistakes or asking ‘stupid questions’. You are expected to rummage around in the dark for a bit before you can find your way out of the chaos. So, go ahead and ask your colleagues even the most basic of questions, e.g. how to use the photostat machine. Making assumptions about how things work is always a risk, even if you already know how certain things work. There may be other procedures you need to complete first before moving on to the task ahead. Clear your doubts as you get to them to prevent them accumulating. People are not as helpful when they expect you to already know your way around the office.

5. Getting Involved in Gossip

Gossip is frowned upon in the workplace for good reasons: they carry incomplete, or sometimes completely wrong, information, also known as rumors. Gossip-peddlers sometimes spread these bits of info with personal agendas, which almost always implicate company morale, relationships across the office and vertically up the corporate ladder. One common characteristic of gossip and rumours are that they are hard to control. We’ll never know how or when the simplest of a bit of rumor could escalate into something totally uncontrollable. Refrain from joining the rumour-monger crew before you become a victim yourself.

6. Being Judgmental or Close-minded

Every organization has its own issues and bottom-necks that may appear to be trivial or preposterous to you when you first learn of it. The solution may seem rather straightforward, and you may wonder out loud why no one is doing anything about it. Well, one common reason is that people are generally averse to change, so they would rather stick with their old, conservative methods out of sheer comfort.

Pointing out their erroneous thinking or stupidity is the best way to get you noticed — and detested.

Also, the problems in your new company may be more than meets the eyes. You have yet to see the big picture of things in the organization and hence fail to take into account the office politics, culture and other work processes before you jump into that conclusion that the system is flawed, but with reason. Therefore, being a newbie withhold your judgments and understand everything better before you jump the gun and crusade for change.

7. Taking Sides

In any kind of environment, you’ll discover that there will be cliques or groups that move together, think together, ‘play together’. Such is the core of office politics that exists in pretty much every workplace you could ever find yourself in. ‘Representatives’ from one of those parties may try to befriend you and offer to orientate you in the office. On the outside they may be nice and friendly but soon enough you will find that they come with ulterior motives. They are recruiting.

Take sides with certain co-workers is fine, if you find that their values, ethics, working styles etc align with yours. It will be a risk nonetheless; taking sides means drawing up an invisible boundary, which makes asking favors from the other groups or cliques more difficult. This would seriously reduce the opportunities for you to learn as much as you can from as many people as you can find. The best way forward is to gather as much as you can from all of those groups but stay neutral and objective

8. Working the Floor like a Casanova

When you are new to the job, people have the tendency to judge you based on the kind of behaviors you show at the initial stage. Making the move on your co-workers during your probationary month may not be helpful with your ‘report card’, especially if someone already has an eye on your target first. You can be charming, or smooth, but be respectful to the ladies, don’t be too stuck up with the men, and try not to be so aggressive with start-up relationships. Focus on making a good impression with the people who decides if you can keep your job first. There will be time for office romances if you think you are up to it later on.

9. Spoiling the ‘Market’

I know most of you would be trying to impress your new bosses and colleagues, showcasing your skills, and exhibiting your passion and commitment to the organization’s vision. However, sometimes it’s best to just go with the norm. If you go the extra mile for every task that you do, you set the precedence that will be expected of for the other employees; this ‘upsets the market’, so to speak. It’s best to not overdo things. Withhold your enthusiasm enough to not be seen as a threat but show enough to be a keeper.

10. Reveal Too Much About Yourself

Don’t judge a book by its cover. As the new person in the workplace, you have no idea who you can trust until you spend more time mingling around. This means that it is not advisable for you to reveal too much about yourself no matter how likable or sociable your colleagues may be. You never know if he or she may use that information against you. Information is fodder for gossip. Nevertheless, be friendly and polite to everyone.

Keep an open mind and avoid being judgmental when it comes to people you’ve just met. Some people take a longer time to warm up to you, so don’t take it personally when they appear distant at first. Have casual conversations with them. In time, you’ll see who’s trustworthy enough for you to share more about yourself, your strategies and your future plans.

Author:

Michael is a freelance blogger and regular contributor for Hongkiat.com. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a double major in Psychology and Communications & New Media in 2011.He believes in the power of the written word to influence and inspire. An enthusiastic video gamer, Michael is also actively engaged in various physical activities in his spare time.

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