how to earn respect as the new hire

featured-on-usnIt can be tough to start a new job: No one knows much about you, the reputation that you spent time building in your old company might not have followed you, and to most of your coworkers you’re still an unknown quantity who might or might not turn out to be great. But with the right moves, you can quickly begin earning respect and establishing yourself as a valued member of your new team.

At U.S. News & World Report today, I talk about eight ways to do it, including looking for an immediate win, asking for feedback, not bringing in cookies on your first day, and more. You can read it here.

{ 21 comments… read them below }

  1. Noelle

    Thank you so much for this. I am about to start a new position, so the advice was timely. I especially like #8.

  2. Tax Nerd

    Several incarnations ago, our office had a new hire who quickly put all of us off by her constant unfavorable comparisons of how we did things, the benefits offered (which were great, by the way), the way we dressed (professional in our office), and on and on. I learned a valuable lesson from that–shut up about what the old place was like, or how/why the new one is inferior/different.

    1. BRR

      Ugh we have someone who has been doing that since they started 9 months ago. Not to mention their previous employer, while in a similar field, is much different in size.

    2. Artemesia

      The trick here is to use the knowledge you learned at place Y to improve function at place X without talking about the fun you had at band camp. It isn’t ‘we organized the TPS reports this way at Y and it was so much better’ but ‘I’d like to try organizing the TPS report deadlines this way; I think it would work better for me, what do you think?’

  3. Kai

    Watching and learning about the culture is so important. It’s okay not to understand something at first, and you may be completely in the right that something doesn’t make sense or could be vastly improved. It may just be a cultural quirk that you don’t like and never will, but you’ll need to be around for a while before you can start making recommendations or changing things at your own will.

  4. Whippers

    In my current job, asking questions was positively frowned on by the manager when I started.
    Anytime I asked a question I was treated like I was stupid or dismissed without getting an answer, even on what was literally my first day. I still don’t know if that manager had a personal issue with me or was just a dick because everyone else seemed to like her (she has since left).

    1. Maggie

      I’ve had that happen to me too. THAT was seen as over eager. They expected us to just ‘get’ it somehow. I did not stay there long.

    2. Joey

      Smart questions is the key. I’ve hired folks who’ve asked some questions and I’ve thought to myself “uh oh. Is this the same person who I interviewed?.”

      1. Kai

        Absolutely. And there’s a massive difference between asking a question that will help you be self-reliant, as in “where can I find that info, do we have it on file somewhere?” and “could you make me a list of the important points from that meeting so I can learn?” The first one, sure, glad to help you. The second, absolutely not.

      2. Whippers

        Well, I felt that most of my questions were smart and just attempting to get to know the organisation. However, I think they were taken as being smart-alecky or attempting to undermine the manager in some way.

        1. Militant Intelligent

          It could be how you framed them, and not what you said. Just a tip: generally, I’d avoid asking questions about “getting to know the organisation” as you’ve quoted. You get to know a company in an interview, (and on the job, don’t ask about what a company is about, no one is saying you should know everything, but just learn though observation).

          1. Whippers

            OK by “Get to the know the organisation”, I meant questions about who is responsible for what, and who I need to go to in order to get specific information. I didn’t mean asking questions like “So, what do you guys do?”
            And it’s all very well saying just learn through observation but I am the only person in my office who does my job so the only way for me to learn anything was by asking questions. Otherwise I would just have been sitting there observing the walls.
            Sorry, I don’t mean to leap down your throat here but I just wanted to clarify.

  5. Cath in Canada

    One of the best “immediate wins” I’ve seen was from a new colleague who made a list of all the acronyms and jargon she encountered – every single one, and there are a lot – found out what they all meant, and saved the definitions list in the new employee orientation file. Even those of us who’ve been here for a while use it, and subsequent hires have said how useful it is.

  6. Joey

    The key for me is to get out of interview mode. You have the job. You no longer have to look for every opportunity to talk about your accomplishments at your previous jobs.

    Now its time to be patient and wait for opportunities to apply your ksa’s.

    1. Mallory+Janis+Ian

      Hear, hear! A few of us once invited a new employee to have lunch with us, and she spent the whole time giving us an hour-long infomercial about all her accomplishments. No one else could get a word in edgewise, and we were all simply exhausted afterward.

  7. Graciosa

    I think that one overlooked aspect of paying attention to the culture is paying attention to feedback from people other than your direct manager.

    If a colleague or manager from another function pulls you aside to tell you something, either 1) they are kindly reaching out to help the new person who doesn’t realize that they screwed up / misunderstood something / whatever the new person needs to know, or 2) they are lobbying to get you to modify your behavior for their own protection.

    You can usually figure out which pretty quickly – but I have seen new people blow off well-intentioned offers of help that were clearly in the first category and burn some bridges that they could really have used later. Even if you don’t take the advice, there’s a lot of value in responding politely and leaving the bridge intact.

  8. Artemesia

    #1 is super important. I don’t want to be too specific for privacy reasons, but I remember a new position where we had a particular function that they hoped I would be an asset to. I made this job 1 and immediately scheduled lots of meetings with the clients related to this and left my door open so that any time people came by my office, they saw me engaged with this time consuming but not favorite task. After a couple of months my reputation was of someone indispensable on this function. I probably could have slacked off on it for the rest of the year and coasted on that if I had chosen. It created a reputation I had for the rest of the time I worked there as someone really great with important function X.

    The cliche for this is ‘low hanging fruit.’ What is the thing you can do that will immediately have payoff and if it is measurable payoff e.g. more web hits, more applications, more sales, all the better.

  9. fluffy

    I would add: Don’t deny a request for sick leave just because YOU think a dr’s appointment should be that long.

  10. justin

    I just started a new job in sales two weeks ago. I think im making a great impression because I am listening more than I am talking. I am being enthusiastic and friendly. I am incorporating the veterans suggestions and I am under promising and over delivering. My boss asked me to promise how many deals I would write up in a month. I said 2. He said ok. Do 2. Ive written up 4 in 2 weeks. He is stunned and I can tell that ive made him feel great about hiring me.

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