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Posted: October 29, 2012

Welcome onboard - watch your step!

Eight great tips for new job success

John Heckers

Many of you reading this are going to be getting employed soon - January at the latest. It is now time to think beyond the job search to the start of a new position. There are several things to be aware of with onboarding. Here are a few.

1). Watch your new boss. Regardless of what you're told in the interviewing phase, the nuances of the corporate culture will not become clear until you're actually on-board.

I'm reminded of the story of the HR professional who, upon death, was given the choice of heaven or Hades. Heaven was pretty nice, with folks sitting around coffee shops talking and lots of great things going on, but when she went to Hades there was a fantastic party. She interviewed with the Devil himself, and he was actually charming and fun. Well, on Monday she took the elevator down and reported to Hades to find the colleagues which had been partying being driven by demons, with the Devil laughing maniacally. When she asked what happened between the interview and reporting for work, the Devil smiled evilly and said, "Now you're on staff."

Hopefully the people you'll be working for, are not Old Nick. But, no matter how honest managers or company owners tend to be, it is truly impossible for them to give you a complete picture of corporate culture regarding things like work ethic, expectations, interaction with customers, and so on. You have to watch and see.

2). Imitate your boss. If your boss is a very hard worker, you should be at least as a hard of a worker. Is the corporate culture strictly hierarchical? Don't try to go around it. Watch and see what is valued and perform those functions exceedingly well.

3). Don't take time off. You need to learn your new job. Every day you're off is two to three days of getting back into the swing of it. Remember, if you take time off in the first six months, your boss might not remember why s/he hired you.

4). Your job is your top priority. If you are newly employed, put your social and personal life on hold and knuckle down to your work. It will not kill children to have you miss their "Holiday Program" one year so that you can put food on the table and pay the rent. This is an employer's market. The exception to this is, of course, any party or other event to do with your new job, your new company, or anything you're invited to by your new boss. Some of the least helpful words a new employee can say is "I'm sorry, I've got other plans."

5). They don't know you. You may be a great employee. They don't know that. So you desperately need to show them. Don't do things that make you look undedicated, too family oriented or like a slacker. Regarding family orientation - this is especially true for women. It isn't right and it isn't fair, but women who concentrate on their families or kids at the expense of their careers are going to be "glass ceilinged" very rapidly, with little chance of escape.

6). Quit smoking now! I have talked with many executives and numerous HR people. Many will not hire a smoker, and many, if they find out the person is a smoker, will get rid of him or her ASAP. This is a very good time to quit. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "quit or be fired."

7). Control your alcohol intake. This is especially true at company parties where "one" should be your limit, but it is also true even in the privacy of your own home. And, of course, many companies have a zero-tolerance policy for illegal substances.

8). Be very, very, very careful with emails. One rule of thumb is - if you wonder if you should send it or not - don't. Stay off the company internet for anything but company business, even if it is technically OK to be on it. Ditto for texting or checking your personal email on your phone. Save these things for your own time.

If you make a major error, it could take years of perfect behavior to make up for it. Do your job and do it with as few mistakes as possible. This way you might actually keep the new job you've started, and be in good with your new employers.

John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience  helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.

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