So you survived the application process and you’ve landed the job – congratulations! While this is an exciting time, starting a job can also be nerve wracking and new workplaces can be tough to figure out. Below are some simple tips to make sure you start on a positive note, and get along well with your co-workers in the long run.
What are your new-office ice breakers?
Remember People's Names
Not good with names? Lots of people aren’t, and when you’re trying to memorise an entire workplace this gets even harder. If you’re working with clients or customers, those numbers can double or triple so remembering everyone can seem like an impossible task. However, there are some very simple ways to help boost your memory and make sure that you can master the very first step to building positive connections with your colleagues.
Studies show that repetition is one of the most effective ways of boosting your memory. This can be as simple as repeating their name when you meet them. If possible, discreetly writing down someone’s name, position and one or two facts about the interaction after you meet them can be a great way of triggering your memory next time you’re stuck in a lift together! Even asking questions about their work when introduced can boost your memory for next time, such as ‘How long have you worked here, Nick?’, or ‘Have you always worked in this sector, Allison?’ Some workplaces will also have an internal directory. Looking up someone’s profile before you make a call or go to meet them can give you a head start and helps put a face to the name for next time. And don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat their name if you’ve forgotten - it’s understandable to forget sometimes when you’re new.
When you start work in a different sector or organisation sometimes everything is new. This can be overwhelming, and having to constantly ask people questions can feel like you’re being a burden or a nuisance. But asking questions isn’t just the best way to make sure you’re doing the right thing, it can also be a great way to break the ice and get to know your new colleagues. Most people are more than happy to talk about their work and to share what they know. While something might feel like a complicated question, for the other person it often takes only a couple of minutes and is not the hassle you might think. Asking about a project or a problem can also give you something to talk about when you see them next, and is a good way to build connections. Not sure who to ask about a question? Ask! Again, asking is one of the fastest ways of learning who is who, and getting to know different people in the workplace when you first start.
Listening is a huge part of effective communication and studies show it is just as important as speaking, if not more so! Being an effective listener is a great skill to have on a personal and professional level, and is a simple way to make sure your first interactions leave a positive impression. Showing a person that you’re actively listening to what they have to say lets them know you’re interested and engaged and is the key to communicating well, particularly in a new environment. This can be as simple as making sure you’re giving them your full attention, nodding and making eye contact, and reflecting back on what they’ve said.
Whether it’s baking something for a morning tea or signing up to the lunchtime soccer team, getting involved in activities is a sure fire way to meet people you have something in common with, and to fast track your familiarity with the workplace. We spend the majority of our week at work, so it’s important that it’s not just a place to get the job done but is also somewhere we feel comfortable and engaged. While you don’t have to be best friends with your new colleagues, having some shared interests or experiences can have professional and social benefits. When considering how to get involved, be sure to pick something that genuinely interests you as this way you will have a good time and meet people you actually have something in common with.
Getting to know people on a positive basis is incredibly important and first impressions do count, so make sure to stay out of gossip or inappropriate conversations when you are getting to know your co-workers. Some workplaces can be chatty and almost everyone has known a workplace gossip at some point in their careers. Sometimes as the new person people will tell you things that they probably shouldn’t or will try to talk about other people in the office. While some conversations about co-workers can be useful, for example whether someone works part time, has a particular specialty or is about to go on leave, when these conversations stray in to personal issues things can get tricky. As a rule, it’s best not to engage with this at all. Often this type of gossip is against workplace policies and may even amount to bullying. While changing the subject or leaving the conversation can be difficult to negotiate, avoiding them will make sure you stay on good terms with your co-workers in the long run and are known for the right reasons.
You got the job because the employer thought your experience and personality were the right fit for the workplace, so don’t second guess yourself! Giving your opinion when asked, speaking up in a meeting or volunteering a solution to a problem will ultimately help to get the job done and are all important parts of working as a team. Being confident doesn’t have to mean dominating a meeting or talking over people, instead it can be as simple as starting a conversation or putting your hand up to help out with a particular task or project. However, try to avoid interrupting or speaking over people.
Your co-workers will appreciate that you’re making an effort and getting involved, and this kind of initiative will also help you build professional experience and connections.
The lunch room can be a great opportunity to meet people outside of your immediate team or section and to get to know your co-workers a little better. Most of us are more relaxed when we’re on our breaks and are happy to have a chat and be social. If you’re naturally shy, joining a group of people for lunch can also be an easy way to meet people without having to go too far out of your comfort zone. Even a quick chat as you make your morning coffee is an easy way to show that you’re a friendly and approachable member of the team.
Do you have any funny stories from breaking the ice in a new job?