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The 6 P’s to Making a Good First Impression at Work

Man smiling and making a good first impression at work

Last year, SafetyNet™ looked at the ways employees can help new bosses move into their leadership roles with the least amount of disruption to the themselves and the team. It’s one thing to help another colleague fit in. It’s another when you’re the one learning the ropes.

While the dynamics that accompany new employees aren’t necessarily bad (after all, presumably you were hired because you are perceived as an asset to the team) change can easily, and inadvertently, cause disruption. Some disturbance—learning about office communications preferences and refrigerator territory—is expected and is easy enough to recalibrate. Others, however, can lead to long-term tensions.

If you find yourself entering a new office culture, here are a few tips to start off on the right foot and make a good first impression at work.

  1. Be Punctual

    It should go without saying that you should make every effort to arrive at the office and to meetings on time, or even a few minutes early. Plan your morning route ahead of time and give yourself at least an extra 15 minutes for the first few weeks. If you find you are going to be late despite your best efforts, have a contact number ready and let someone know right away.

  1. Be Positive

    Resist rolling your eyes or complaining about another colleague with a new confidant no matter how appealing the instant camaraderie might feel. Known as  “The Peter Principle,” it’s a strange phenomenon that sometimes the people who linger the longest in their positions are also the least competent and most beleaguered. Chances are, with a little more insight into the larger dynamics at play, your reaction would be nuanced at best.

    Along those lines, politics, religion, and personal issues like family dynamics, relationships and health are well-known conversation topics to avoid at work. Even if others broach these subjects, listen respectfully and move on.

  1. Be Predictable

    If you have to call in sick, do. But the more you can avoid unpredictability in your first three months, the better your chances of building a solid reputation. Recognize that the stress of new routines and unfamiliar surroundings are going to take a toll on your health. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Turn down unnecessary obligations until you are back on an even keel.

  1. Be Presentable

    Make an extra effort to press and clean your clothes in the first few weeks. It’s better to appear a little too formal at first until you get a sense of the dress code of those around you.

  1. Be Prepared

    The more you know about the company and its culture, the better your chances of offering helpful, productive insights. While you should already have researched their website and social media presence in preparation for the job interview, pick up literature and other news you find around the office. Keep a pulse on news regarding the company’s competitors, too.

    Equally important: when you know you don’t know something, say it. Faking your way through a software program or hoping you’ll just “get it” before the big meeting doesn’t do your colleagues any favors. No one expects you to know everything the day you arrive. But they should expect you’ll communicate what you need in order to deliver what they need.

    After all this, if you still find you’ve made a misstep in your first few weeks, know it’s part of the learning curve. The real damage is done when you hide, deflect, or deny it. Mistakes happen. Own it and move on.

  1. Be Pleasant

    When someone shows you around, tips you off to a good resource, or helps compile your report at the last minute, say thanks. Acknowledging people’s generosity and sharing credit when it’s due is the best way to ensure you will continue to receive it.