Congratulations! You’ve finished your studies and worked really hard to get your first ‘real’ job. This is a huge accomplishment and hopefully you’re feeling exicted and ready for the challenge. If you have already had part-time work or an internship, you’ll be a step ahead, but a new job or a new workplace is a daunting and nerve-wracking experience for most. I know that being the ‘newbie’ can be quite stressful too; you want to fit in and make a good impression, but don’t want to overdo it.
Here are some simple ways you can use to make your first days as painless as possible and to help you conform to the etiquette of the company. But first, just what is ‘work etiquette’ anyway?
Work etiquette incorporates all types of manners and behaviour in relation to work dealings such as how you come across as an individual, how you relate to others both within your own organisation and externally and how you make use of the tools with which you can communicate. Etiquette isn’t fixed and rigid. Workplaces are very different when it comes to what’s considered acceptable behaviour and conduct and the formality of etiquette will vary between companies.
Before you start, find out the right dress code for your job. Ring the organisation if necessary. You will feel really out of place dressed in jeans if everyone else in business suits. If you are required to have your own gear, like boots for outdoor work, make sure you have them in advance.
Listen and observe
Not only will you learn a lot about the environment you will be working in, but you can also see how your colleagues behave and learn from them. Also, remember you don’t know what you don’t know; try not to jump in and take over or suggest changes too soon as this is likely to annoy people with more experience. Innovation is a good thing but you first need to earn the respect and trust of your co-workers.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! You are not expected to know everything straight away and most employers would rather you asked than went blindly head making mistakes.
If you are given instructions, write them down! It is impossible to remember everything in your first few days and having notes to refer back to can be very useful. This way you won’t have to ask your supervisor to repeat themselves. Plus, learn how to work the equipment you are expected to use! Whether it’s a photocopier or a fork lift, you need to be able to operate it to do your job effectively.
As the new kid on block, you will probably not be overloaded with work while you settle in. If you do find yourself at a loose end, offer to help other colleagues where you can.
Mind your manners
Be polite, respectful and courteous to everyone in the organisation. And a sincere thank you and a friendly smile goes a long way.
Understand the workplace rules
Make sure you understand the rules surrounding e-mail etiquette and the use of your mobile phone. Rock on but quietly – use headphones for music if this is allowed. It can be useful to listen to the grapevine but don’t engage in the gossip or bad-mouth your colleagues.
Remember to enjoy your new job and in most instances, common sense will tell what you do!