It's always exciting to start a new job, and this is precisely the point at which to begin establishing your positive reputation and harnessing opportunities. Ensuring that people value you and want to work with you right off the bat will yield exponential results as you continue in your new role. Here, five tips for leveraging your potential from day one and turning your new job into the path to continued professional growth and success.
1. Build relationships at every level.
When you click with someone in your organization, be proactive about growing that connection. Don't narrow your focus just to colleagues at your level. Administrative staff often understand workplace dynamics better than anyone. A senior colleague you mesh well with can become a trusted mentor. Pursue the relationships that feel authentic to you to expand your resources, knowledge base, and support network. One effective way to do this is to offer your help. If you don't have anything to do, find something. See if a coworker needs support ask your favorite manager's assistant how you can pitch in, or ask a manager directly if he or she could use an extra set of hands. When you offer to help, you'll find that help will be there for you too -- when you need it.
2. Ask questions, ask questions, ask questions.
It is crucial to get clarity on what you're asked to accomplish. Simple yes or no questions limit responses, so choose open-ended questions and zero in on the three to five that will yield the most useful results. This isn't an interrogation, but a focused round of information gathering. What does success on this project look like? Is there any history on it that I should leverage? When do you want an update, and whom else should I loop in? If it helps, think of question types as buckets -- Resources, Purpose, Timing, Process, and so on -- to strategize your approach. And find out whom else you can ask if you have follow-up queries.
3. Have an opinion, and know when to share it.
Early in my career, I was charged with crunching data for my company's mergers and acquisitions department. One day a top executive asked me what I thought about the current data. Until then I hadn't thought about what I'd been doing, I'd just been doing it, and when given the chance to speak up I had nothing to say. That never happened again. From then on I was always prepared with my own analysis in case I was asked for it. Don't assume you can dispense your thoughts unbidden, but be prepared to offer an opinion when called upon. Knowing what you want to say and when to say it demonstrates engagement, professional maturity and political workplace savvy.
4. Pay attention to the big picture -- and the small one.
Understand why you're assigned certain tasks, what the results will contribute to, and how this all fits into your organization's larger goals and aims. What will your managers do with the information you're producing, and why is it important to them? And don't lose sight of the details -- your bosses are relying on you to deliver, and they'll notice if you get things wrong. Take ownership and pride in every aspect of your work.
5. Maintain a positive attitude and don't forget to smile.
Approach every situation in a genuinely upbeat way. Don't let any task be below you. Demonstrating that you're willing to pitch in and get things done signals your commitment, perceptiveness, and can-do attitude. Technical skills can be taught but attitude comes from within, and every action is a form of communication. Staying positive creates connections and opportunities, and opens the door to continued career growth.
© 2011 Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like
Michelle Tillis Lederman, author of The 11 Laws of Likability: Relationship Networking . . . Because People Do Business with People They Like, is founder and CEO of Executive Essentials, which provides customized communication and leadership programs.