Dos and don’ts when joining a new company
By Lin Jing November 11, 2015
After joining a new firm, the most immediately stressful task for many professionals can be assimilating into the new company culture, building rapport with team members and conveying a positive first impression.
With the onerous interview and testing processes successfully navigated, new joiners to a company will have to meet with senior managers, build relationships in the company and try to blend into a new working environment, and they may feel that their interpersonal and social skills are next under the spotlight.
Recruiters and career experts offer advice for quickly adapting to office dynamics, preparing oneself to create a positive, professional image from the start and learning how to deal with new bosses and colleagues.
Mingling with colleagues vs. hard work
In the first days and weeks at a company, newcomers should take every opportunity to introduce themselves to more people in the office and get to know them on a social level, says Kully Jaswal, career executive coach at Hong Kong-based Ignition Coaching.
Jaswal advises new joiners to soak in as much information as possible about the working environment and colleagues through conversation during lunchtimes, after-work dinners or other social meetings, as it will help them better understand office dynamics and company culture, or even the habits and style of the firm’s managers.
If a new boss is a stickler for punctuality, it helps if a new employee quickly learns about this and can take extra care to avoid being late, she says.
It is vital for a newcomer to quickly impress colleagues and managers professionally, however, as the first assignment that a new employee accomplishes at a firm often leaves a lasting impression, she adds.
Newcomers should also arrive at a new company prepared to stay as long as necessary in the office during the first few days to ensure that they emit a positive “can-do” attitude and show they are ready to go the extra mile for their team and managers, says Jaswal.
Conversely, it doesn’t give off the right signals to be the first one leaving the office in the first few days at a new company. It can also look bad to start complaining about a previous company, role or colleagues or compare the current company with a previous one, she says.
Larger organisations will often have a formal orientation that new joiners have to undergo. New employees should make sure to use this opportunity to introduce themselves and create a good first impression to people from different departments, says Ivan Lam, a Hong Kong-based associate director at Morgan McKinley.
Interpersonal skills are greatly valued in the financial industry, and demonstrating passion and drive in front of supervisors indicates you are likely to do the same if and when you meet senior industry peers and clients, he adds.
Steer clear of office gossip
For employees trying to ingratiate themselves with a new set of colleagues, there are certain boundaries that they should be wary of crossing.
Mingling with new colleagues, either over lunch or a cup of coffee in the pantry, is a good idea, but newcomers should be somewhat cautious about what they hear, say or ask, according to Lam.
One common mistake newcomers make is trying to enquire of people’s opinion of other colleagues or managers in the organisation, he says.
Ignition Coaching’s Jaswal says a newcomer should pay close attention to the boundary between talking with colleagues and gossiping with them.
When joining a new workplace, it is natural for an employee to feel curious and start asking questions. As a general rule, it’s fine for a new joiner to ask about work ethics and company culture, says Jaswal, but questions about pay, promotion or office politics should be avoided.
Bragging about past achievements?
Newcomers should also try to find the right balance of modesty when they are quizzed by colleagues or managers about their past accomplishments.
There may be a strong urge to impress new colleagues or the new boss, but a new employee certainly does not want to come across as too arrogant or be perceived as bragging about past achievements.
Talking about oneself is not always equivalent to bragging, however, Jaswal says. Newcomers may actually add value to the current team or current projects by sharing their previous expertise in a related field, and they might well have been hired because they can contribute this past experience, she says.
It is quite natural for newcomers to be asked about their past professional experience, Morgan McKinley’s Lam says, but one should avoid adopting an arrogant tone when responding.
Even if an employee was a superstar or employee of the month in the previous firm, modesty is paramount, and a conversation can be balanced by asking about what the other colleagues have accomplished, says Lam.
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