Surviving your first day at a new job

Onboarding: How to survive your first day at a new job

Renee Sylvestre-Williams|

Since I started freelancing I’ve had the opportunity to work with many different clients. Overall the experience has been very rewarding and I’ve had the chance to get involved in many different projects and environments.

I recently started a new contract for a client who requires me to be in the office during regular business hours. That got me thinking: a lot of us change jobs (approximately five to seven times during our careers) and find ourselves in new environments.

That means new people in the office on a fairly regular basis. So how can new employees and employers reduce culture shock and set expectations?

Onboarding for employers

I’ve heard, “We really need a proper onboarding process” more than once yet somehow companies never seem to find the time to develop a proper onboarding process. Onboarding new employees is more than just meeting them at reception, walking them to their desk, introducing them to their team mates and signing paperwork.

Some processes that should be included (and often aren’t):

Explaining all the unwritten rules and symbols – this can include all internal acronyms

Create and give the new employee a job description. Ensure you and your new employee agree on said job description before you both sign off on it.

Create an performance plan for the first three months. This can include certain milestones.

Discuss and set a feedback schedule. Do you want to meet weekly for the first month and taper off to monthly? What documents and results are to be brought to the meeting?

Provide a contact list of people your new employee will need to know – this should include your IT and technical support.

Work with your new employee to help integrate them into the team. This is especially important if they’re replacing someone who was let go and/or a popular member of the team.

Finally, show them the washrooms.

For new employees

Treat the first day like the interview.

Your new manager has already interviewed you but this might be the first time the team has met you, and you, them. They’ve evaluating you and you’re evaluating them, so treat the first day like a job interview. Make a good impression, sell your skills and emphasize your team work.

Watch and Listen

Some might say “don’t speak until you’re spoken to,” but I prefer the watch and listen approach. After all, you should speak up, you were hired to do a job and your manager and teammates are probably expecting you to contribute to the conversation.

The “watch and listen” approach is good because it helps you figure out the team hierarchy (there’s always one) and their work style. How does the team communicate? Do they prefer email, chat or do they like to talk to each other?

Of course, always ask questions. Sitting silently won’t get you the answers you need.

What do you wish companies would do when onboarding new employees?

Category: Life At Work, Student,