How to avoid annoying your new colleagues

There’s a lot to think about when you start a new job, a hundred things, big and small, that you don’t know but need to learn very quickly. Some things you can plan for, some you can’t. But there is one sure-fire way to make yourself unpopular and set you back on your path to success and it happens more times than it should.

It’s a mistake I see people make time and time again, especially more senior employees. They think they are doing the right thing and often have no idea how annoying or disengaging their actions are to their new colleagues. This grave error?

Wanting to ‘create impact’ and ‘add value’.

OK, I hear you asking: “Surely, that’s a positive, isn’t it?” Well, yes. But it needs to be done the right way.

It’s natural to want to make a good impression, show your strengths and justify why you were hired. There’s often a sense of needing to prove oneself quite quickly in a new role and that is OK. 

What’s not OK is when that drive overtakes clear thinking and works against you. How?

Well, imagine you’re an employee and someone new starts. They jump in with ideas from the get-go, looking for things to be improved and changes to be made. Because that’s how they feel they justify being hired.

Unfortunately, they don’t realise that their seemingly positive ideas and suggestions have a negative side.

Firstly, they often don’t know enough of the background or history to be making assumptions and pronouncements about what should have happened or needs to be done. Negative strike one.

Secondly, someone suggesting that changes need to be made implies that everyone is currently doing a less than stellar job. Negative strike two.

Yes, you may have been hired with an agenda for improvements and changes, but there is a way of going about it, taking a little more time to truly understand where you are, who you are with, how they work and what they will respond positively to.

Taking some time to observe, to learn and understand will lead to far more impactful change and value add. Learning how people and processes work, you’ll know which levers to pull, where to put pressure and how to deliver change that your colleagues engage with and support.

What you wear on day one is up to you but here are my top 5 tips for starting a new role:

  • Don’t rush to act. Look, listen and learn. Take your time to learn about the people, the place, the culture and the dynamics. Then, when you do act, you’ll have more impact because your suggestions will be backed by evidence and observation. • Be approachable, interested and confident.
  • Introduce yourself, don’t wait for people to make the first move. Talk about them, not yourself.• Ask, don’t assume.
  • Ask people to explain how things work at your new company. Don’t assume you know even if you have experience in similar roles or organisations. Be open to learning.• Keep asking questions.
  • No-one will expect you to remember everything you see or hear in your first few days. Also, you can play the newbie card for a while without coming across as critical: “As I’m new, can you tell me how you arrived at that decision?”• Be yourself.
  • Don’t try too hard, relationships are built over time and it’s not a popularity contest.

If you’re nervous about your first day or how to make impact in a new role, why not try a session of Career Therapy to help you prepare? From handshakes (or elbow bumps) to goal setting, it’s good to have a plan.

Photo by Austin Pacheco on Unsplash

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