10 Traps to Avoid When Starting a New Job

Everyone wants to start a new job on the right foot. Having a strategy for making your mark in the first few weeks is a great idea. Here are 10 traps that can undermine your efforts during your first couple of months on the job.

  1. Going against the cultural norms before you've looked to see what works and why it works. Check out the undocumented dress code. What is acceptable and what is not? How do you communicate with others? Is news passed at the coffee pot, in email, or by dropping into their cube or office? When do people leave the office in the evening? Is it at 5pm, 6pm, 8pm or later? You may want to transform the culture but first find out what the norm is and then strategically pick your battles if that is what you choose to do.
  2. Believing you are the savior of the company before you really understand who or what you are saving the company from. As Covey says "Seek first to understand."
  3. Closing yourself off and sticking to your job heads down. While this might sound like a good idea, part of your job is to work well with your colleagues. Get out and build relationships with them. Meet the movers and shakers in your new company so that when you need to get something done you will know who to go to. Make lunch dates with some of your work group and get to know them better. Part of your job is to make your work and your team's work go smoothly. You need solid internal connections to facilitate that.
  4. Not clarifying what the expectations of your boss are. You may have a clear idea of your job but you will need to verify the expectations of your boss. Get his/her agreement about the priorities and the deadlines.
  5. Refuse to accept that you made a mistake and then keep trying to justify it. Everyone makes mistakes especially in a new situation. Admit the mistake, make a note not to do it again, and move on.
  6. Implementing changes before you get buy in from others. This is important at any time but you are more at risk when you are new to an organization. You see what needs to be done and are in a rush to show your value. It may be important to get it done fast but you need allies to insure success. Get buy in first from people who have the ability to get other people behind the change.
  7. Waiting until your yearly review for feedback. Establish a pattern of meeting regularly with your boss. It could be weekly or monthly. Ask for feedback on what you have done and buy in on what you intend to do.
  8. Not having any measurable accomplishments in 90 days. Find a short term project that can lead to a success in 90 days and complete it. It is important that the project also be important to your manager so that he/she acknowledges that success.
  9. Not knowing anyone outside your department. As you become comfortable in your new role and with your group colleagues, reach out to the other departments that you work with. Have lunch with some of these people to help smooth operations for future projects. In a small company with only one department? Look for others outside your company that can help you with the work you do. They could be vendors or others in your field or allied fields that you can go to for support.
  10. Not keeping up with your networking and not updating your resume on a regular basis. Jobs today are not permanent. One thing is for sure. You will be looking for another job again unless you are ready to retire. Maintain an active network and keep adding accomplishments to your resume.