Caught up in the excitement of a new job, it’s easy — and somewhat foolhardy — to take success in your new position for granted. Come back down to earth, and you’ll find that success in a new role is far from guaranteed: studies show that 46 percent of new hires fail within the first 18 months. Statistics are hardly on your side. It’s vital, then, that you handle this new-hire period effectively and avoid the known pitfalls that come with starting a job.
Many companies have nurturing onboarding programs that help you transition into the organization, but these programs are not perfect. As a new hire, it is up to you to deploy great “new-job behaviors” and avoid terrible ones if you are to ensure your success.
Many have covered the great “new-job behaviors” I mention above, so I thought I would take the opportunity to explore the terrible “new-job behaviors.” Think of this post as a massive red warning side on a road that screams “Cliff drop ahead!” That is to say: these are the four worst ways to start a job, and you should avoid every single one.
1. Starting With a Poor Attitude and/or Lack of Motivation
The single worst way to start a job is to start with anything other than a bounce in your step and a resilient, can-do attitude. The Leadership IQ study to which I linked in the first paragraph found that most new hires fail thanks to poor attitudes and/or a lack of motivation — not because they lack technical skills.
On your first day — along with the obvious requirement of not arriving late — you should also avoid complaining about mundane things like parking, traffic, or your own lack of focus. Make sure you are outwardly positive and accommodating, and offer plenty of suggestions when appropriate. If there is a problem that needs a remedy, fix it if you can: studies show that new hires who achieve quick wins perform better later on in their careers and are more promotable.
2. Neglecting Your Boss
Studies show that one of the most influential factors in determining whether an employee quits a job is the employee’s relationship with their boss. Employee-boss relationships are also linked to satisfaction and productivity. Ensure you meet with your boss early on and quickly try to establish common ground in terms of personality, values, ideals, social interests, etc. Doing so will help you build a strong rapport with your boss, which bodes well for your tenure at the job.
3. Failing to Manage Your Own Onboarding and Orientation
Perhaps you are thinking, “Isn’t my employer supposed to take care of that?” Well, they very well might not: an Aberdeen Group study found that only 32 percent of employers have formal onboarding processes. Chances are you’ll be left to fend for yourself when it comes to joining the company, building your network, and learning the ropes. Waiting around to be told what to do may be one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a new hire. If your manager is slow on assigning goals, chase them down or write your own until your sanctioned goals arrive. If you have a gap in your knowledge, find out who knows the answer and ask them to teach it to you.
4. Spending All Day at Your Desk
Working on your first day is crucial, but this study from the Sloan School of Management found that new hires who quickly build information relationships with colleagues also get up to speed more quickly, perform better, and are more satisfied with their jobs. You can do some networking on your computer, but face-to-face networking will help you build the strongest relationships. Don’t do it blindly or stick to your comfort zone: build a political map of influencers at the company, then get out and meet them!