So You’re New on the Job

“So You’re New on the Job,” Ensign, June 1985, 69–70

So You’re New on the Job

Many of us have learned, the hard way, that there are some things to do and other things to avoid doing during the first days on a new job. Often our future with an organization is based on those first few weeks or months of employment. If this is true, how can we use this crucial breaking-in period to our benefit?

Here are seven keys to success on that new job:

Know as much as you can about the job before you start. Too often we find out, after the fact, that it is hard to accept the job for what it is, rather than for what we thought it would be.

The best remedy for this is to learn as much as you can about the job ahead of time. You may want to talk informally with other workers or the supervisor to learn what you will be expected to do, how the supervisor manages people, and what the other workers are like.

Make a special effort to establish good working relationships. The single most frequent cause of disenchantment or early dismissal is the inability to relate to co-workers or the boss. Leaving a job early or being fired usually has little to do with job skills or learning ability. Most frequently it is because people can’t get along with each other, and this interferes with the work.

Mike, a construction worker, didn’t like his boss’s sarcasm. Realizing how easily he might become upset and angry with his boss, he talked to a friend who owned his own construction company. The friend shared with him some of his experiences as a supervisor. He said that sometimes things look different from the boss’s perspective. They talked about possible solutions.

Mike decided to talk with his boss for a few moments after work, telling him of his feelings in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Orient your perspective towards the goals of the employer. Ask yourself, “What is important to my supervisor?” “What are his or her priorities, goals, ways he or she likes to do things?” and “How can I help?” Try to understand how he or she sees things.

Keep your personal and job goals and values clearly in mind. What would you like to have contributed, learned, or accomplished in five years, two years, one year? How do you plan to do it? What is important to you—honesty, loyalty? What choice might you make in a compromising situation? If the supervisor asks you to falsify information, what will you do? Knowing your values before something like this happens is best. A person who has clearly defined his or her goals and values is solidly grounded and naturally engenders respect from others.

Become known as one who can be trusted and one who is dedicated to the job. Negative comments about co-workers, the supervisor, or the organization are never appropriate. It is important that you be true to yourself and to the supervisor.

Being true to yourself may mean bringing up a problem with the boss, rather than talking about it behind his or her back.

Seek a mentor. Find a person who has gone through an experience similar to yours and who is not in the same company, or at least not one of your supervisors or co-workers. Talk things over with him or her. Perhaps he can give you needed insights and let you get your ideas, feelings, and frustrations out. Often you don’t need advice as much as you need someone to listen.

Keep a balance in your life. You may make mistakes as you begin that new job. Because you are new, you lack information and experience. But being overly critical of yourself is destructive. Keeping things in perspective comes from sharing information and keeping a balance in your life. Balance comes from planning for church activities, recreation, hobbies, family time, vacations, reading, and making new friends. C. Susan Jones, former career development counselor, Brigham Young University