You worked so hard to get your new job. Now, in addition to the many details you’re learning in order to be proficient in your position, you should also be mindful of things you can do to help you keep it. Paying attention to the corporate culture and making an effort to fit in is crucial as a new employee. Let’s look at eight things in the realm of people skills you should be mindful of to help you integrate into the new company.
1) Flowcharting – Fitting in and building respect and a good reputation are important early on. One of my former supervisors used to flowchart out the positions and divisions in each company he worked for soon after he began. This initiative can aid your understanding of the company and who you could approach if you have an issue or need beyond the scope of your department. If you’re just not sure how to track this information down, your supervisor may have done this flowcharting already or be able to help you with the process.
2) Internal Networking – Have a brief “elevator speech” for what you do in your position. You can use this as you meet your fellow employees. Starting in your area, meet as many people as you can, even if they’re outside your department or not on your floor (the aforementioned flowchart will help.) This will help you develop good relationships with coworkers and build goodwill. Cultivate a network of relationships with coworkers at many levels. Higher-ups can help give you perspective from a management point of view; those at your level can answer questions and help you become more effective in your work. Avoid spending much time with those you find to be complainers and negative Nellie’s.
3) Excellence and Communication – Communicate clearly with vendors and coworkers alike, and really listen during your training. Show energy, enthusiasm, and excellence in your work, and strive to be visible.
4) Tooting Your Horn – Especially as you near performance appraisal time, find little ways to subtly point out your value and what you’ve accomplished since the last appraisal. Most supervisors are pretty overwhelmed, and it doesn’t hurt to work what you’ve recently accomplished into a conversation. Think about things like great customer feedback, compliments on your work from coworkers and higher-ups, meeting deadlines ahead of schedule, and positive facts or figures like sales achievements or how much you just saved the company.
5) Effective Collaboration – Making valuable contributions to projects can showcase you as a standout collaborator. Big projects need collaborative teams to carry them out. Perfect your persuasion skills, and if you’re not really a detail person, cultivate an eye for detail. Identify the positives and benefits of the thing in question; solicit feedback from friends, colleagues, and coworkers; then match the communication style of those you need to persuade when presenting. For example, if the members of the project team are big picture people, don’t get too deep into details. Use hot button words, lingo, and language they’re familiar with.
Further, think beyond just planning to implementation. While planning is important, employees who can create, revise, administrate, and execute ideas are setting themselves up for recognition and advancement.
6) Teaching Others – Obviously as you move up the ladder at your company, you’ll have picked up a lot of things. Or perhaps you bring to the table quite a bit of valuable knowledge from a long, rich career. Teach, and share what you know. There’s definitely opportunity for this with new employees. Help others gain wisdom, experience, and insight.
7) Avoiding Burnout – Years of service in the same position can sometimes make one stagnant in thinking or lead to frayed attitudes with coworkers or customers. When the phone rings or that next customer approaches you, stay positive and think “opportunity” not “obligation.” Don’t let your attitude get worn down, and be mindful of burnout. If you feel you’re getting burned out (or overloaded) but want to stay in your current position, work with your supervisor to come up with some changes that will make your work more pleasant and manageable. Or you could seek a position in a different department.
8) Being Persistent Not Pesky – The Marketing Director at one record label for which I worked liked my go-get-’em style and called me The Bulldog. In nearly every position, your work and your success rate in meeting deadlines will (unfortunately) depend on input from other people. When you follow up, don’t be such a bulldog that you tick people off or get branded as a nag.
After waiting for a reasonable time, and based on the urgency of the project, you’re your move to remind those who are holding you up. A good sequence of touch points is: request, log, remind by email, then finally—if need be—call or drop by the lagger’s office.
My Stephen Minister gave me some wise advice once, “Attitude and mood trump ability every time.” In other words, keeping your interactions and responses pleasant and professional is more important than mowing people down to meet deadlines to avoid anyone thinking you’re incompetent. And I’ve found that to be true most of the time.
What tips would you give others as far as people skills to develop that will help them fit in and keep their jobs?