Getting a new job is cause for celebration, but if you want to make a good first impression, work begins immediately. How do you prepare for your first day, build bridges with new colleagues and stand yourself in good stead for the future? In the second part of a two-part feature, Matt Moody takes a look
5. Listen and learn
Most organisations will require you to complete an induction. Some of the content might seem self-explanatory, but don’t underestimate its importance, says Shaun Lewis, director of town planning recruitment at Lewis Davey.
Your induction is crucial – it’s likely that what you learn will form the bedrock of your knowledge for the future. It’s important to dismiss your preconceptions, focus on what you’re being told, take adequate notes and ask questions where things are unclear.”
Charlotte Morphet, who started work with the London Borough of Waltham Forest early in 2017, stresses: “In the rush of your first week, it can be easy to forget things, so listen to any instructions and information you’re given, and make sure you note it down.”
If you’re being inducted as part of a group, networking starts now. First impressions count, so don’t think you can neglect your new colleagues until the induction is over.
6. Get social at lunch
Lunch can be a great time to get to know new colleagues in a relaxed setting. “Ask someone to show you their favourite lunch spot,” suggests Morphet.
“It’s a great way to build a relationship, and it’s worth getting the inside track on tried-and-tested places to eat.”
It’s a good way to get your bearings too, adds Lewis. “Get a look around and get to know both your colleagues, and the area.”
7. Build relationships with care
“You spend a large period of your life at work, and many people meet some of their best friends in the office,” says Lewis. “But don’t force it and take your time. If you go out for drinks with colleagues avoid the temptation to drink heavily due to nerves. You don’t want to be that person!”
Tom Hiles, who started a new role as a planning officer with Cheshire East Council last year, agrees that building relationships can’t be rushed.
“Be confident and professional while you’re getting to know your team, but don’t try too hard to make close friends in your first few weeks. Office politics and already-established personal dynamics can be complicated and hard to fathom for a newcomer.”
When it comes to breaking the ice, there’s one tactic that never fails, according to Morphet – “offer to make the tea!”
8. Understand your workflow
An important part of settling in to a job is understanding how your colleagues like to work, and how you fit into that process. “It’s a good idea to ask your manager about their workflow,” says Morphet. “This includes how – and how often – they want to check in with you, their sign-off procedure for your work, and how you can keep each other informed.”
Understanding the company structure is important, whether you’ll be part of a compact team or larger organisation. “Ask your boss for an organogram, so you can establish who reports to who early on,” says Hiles.
“Understanding who the top performers in your team are – and why – is a good way to visualise how you can be successful.”
Morphet adds: “Once you reach the end of your first week, you should feel satisfied but challenged with your new workload, and know what you want to prioritise."
For Lewis, it’s time to take stock. “At the end of the week, review your induction notes so it is as fresh in your mind as when you were first introduced to it,” he says. “Continue to review content on a weekly and monthly basis until it is cemented in your mind.”
Once you feel organised, relax and take some time for yourself, he adds. “Grab a drink and celebrate a successful first week in your new job!”
Tom Hiles is a planning officer for Cheshire East Council, specialising in neighbourhood planning
Shaun Lewis is director of town planning recruitment at Lewis Davey
Charlotte Morphet is a local plan officer for the London Borough of Waltham Forest and co-founder of Women in Planning
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