Get on board with Onboarding

“You’ve got the job!”

The buzz that comes from hearing those words can’t be denied but, for many of us, that initial euphoria is often replaced with fear.

Whether you’re recently qualified or an experienced hand, learning the ‘rules’ of a new workplace can be daunting. Having confidence in your own ability is one thing but your new workplace will have acceptable patterns, codes, routines to which you are not privy…yet.

How quickly you grasp the workplace culture and the professional (and social) expectations will dictate how comfortably you’ll fit in and how well you will succeed in your new role.

As a new hire, you should be inducted through comprehensive onboarding. Good companies know the value of doing this well, but others are notoriously bad at providing orientation programs. Some might corral a current employee to give a cursory meet, greet and tour of the facilities or, worse still, leave the new employees entirely to their own devices. The new hire is unlikely to learn much in either of these scenarios which are guaranteed to increase rather than diffuse anxiety.

So, while it is the company’s responsibility to help you assimilate, you can do much to get onboard and demonstrate your potential from the outset.

Remember what you promised in your interview.

Don’t reinvent yourself as someone else just to please. You sold your employers a vision of your brand. What was it? A respectful, diligent, professional employee qualified to do the job? A go-getter with original ideas?  Aim to deliver on that promise from day 1.

Demonstrate good time management and organisation.

This isn’t solely to impress your employer (though it undoubtedly will) but for your own sanity. When projects pile up and the pressure is on, a well-practised schedule of goal setting and prioritising will help you avoid pressure situations.

Be patient.

Don’t impose your ideas or expectations too soon. Give yourself time to get to know people and allow them time to see you in action. If you work well, they will be much more responsive to later demands.

Be observant.

While remaining friendly, ‘get the lie of the land’. Avoid becoming embroiled in unhealthy cliques or workplace gossip which can quickly become toxic. For new hires, there is often the temptation to fall for this as a way of joining in, but it pays to be watchful first. Minding your own business isn’t a bad mantra so long as you don’t ignore unsafe or unethical practices or behaviour.

Ask questions judiciously and listen well to the answers.

For new hires, it’s perfectly natural that you will need information or clarification. Aim to ask the most competent source and listen carefully to the answer so you don’t have to ask again. Choose your moment so there’s time to engage with your source. Most people are flattered when asked for help but only if it doesn’t interrupt their own work.

Practise being respectfully assertive.

Aiming to please by always saying ‘yes’ quickly backfires, so learn to say ‘no’ effectively. Provide valid reasons for saying no to additional tasks that exceed your job’s scope. Offer alternative ways of getting the task done or negotiate more realistic completion dates. When time allows, help out colleagues but don’t allow yourself to become a ‘doormat’.

Finally, when you have learnt the ropes and become part of the establishment, it might be worthwhile suggesting that onboarding future employees should become a focus for development!