New Employees: Understanding Nine Success Factors for Workplace Success
Starting a new job can be exciting, especially if it’s with a prestigious company or in a position that required unique skills or experiences. Most times, new employees are courted and often pursued by hiring organizations as they are considered valuable assets. However, the excitement and attraction often take a nosedive once the new employee steps into the organization’s door. The corporate indoctrination machine takes over, and an overwhelming tour of policies, personal benefit forms, nondisclosure agreements, and the dreaded orientation processes follow suit. Even in organizations with effective mentoring programs, new employees are often implicitly expected to know certain unspoken rules and are left to learn through trial and error. This article highlights nine success factors that new employees must understand to succeed in their new workplaces.
1. Learn the Organizational Culture
Every workplace has a culture that comprises company policies, regulations, practices, histories, and unspoken rules that govern the employees’ behaviors, interactions, and decision-making. This culture can be overwhelming for new employees, and ignoring it can be detrimental to one’s success. Employees that understand the organizational culture and align their behaviors with it stand a better chance of succeeding than those who do not. For instance, some workplaces require strict dress codes, and dressing down can be considered unprofessional, while others have a more relaxed dress code. New employees must take the time to learn the company’s culture and adjust their behavior accordingly.
2. Adhere to the Established Chain of Command
Chain of command refers to the hierarchical structure in organizations that defines channels of communication and authority. It exists in non-military organizations and is essential for effective decision-making and the implementation of strategies. As a new employee, it is essential to understand the chain of command and adhere to it. Organizations have varying communication protocols, and ideas that bypass the relevant management may hinder the effective implementation of strategies. Speaking to relevant managers and obtaining necessary approvals before moving up the management ladder is often the best practice.
3. Be Friendly but Not Friends with your Superiors
Being friendly entails being amicable and courteous to colleagues at work while maintaining a professional distance. In contrast, being a friend entails building a close personal relationship beyond the professional level. As a new employee, it is essential to maintain a friendly disposition at work, but it is crucial to draw the line between work and personal life. Developing personal relationships with superiors and expecting to capitalize on the relationship at the expense of accountability is unprofessional and may hinder one’s success.
4. Don’t Play in Office Politics
Politics exist in all organizations, and it refers to the informal and formal relationships among staff members beyond their job responsibilities. New employees must observe and understand office politics to function optimally in their workplace. However, engaging in gossip or forming unofficial alliances can be detrimental to one’s success. Employees must learn to maintain cordial relationships with their colleagues while avoiding destructive alliances that can harm their reputation and that of the organization.
5. Be Conscious of Body Language in Emails
Emails are essential in communication at the workplace, but they are lacking in an essential feature – body language. As a result, misunderstandings may arise, leading to poor communications. What may seem like a sarcastic remark in an email may be a genuine expression in person or may inadvertently be received as rude or inappropriate. Employees must, therefore, ensure that their emails are concise and that the tone adequately represents their intended message. It is always best to conduct critical conversations in person or over the phone.
6. Act Professionally in Emails
Professionalism is a critical factor in employees’ success at the workplace, and it extends to communication via email. Employees must ensure that their official communications maintain a professional tone and that they do not include content that may discredit them or the organization. Employers often subject emails to legal discovery processes, and it is essential to avoid sending emails that include content that one would not put on a postcard or would not want others, including their supervisors or colleagues, to see.
7. Let Excellence Speak for Itself
Harry S. Truman once said, “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Employees must ensure that they excel in their work while avoiding the temptation to blow their horn to gain recognition. Excellence speaks for itself, and employees that deliver quality work consistently and act professionally when they receive recognition or not will develop a reputation as high performers in their workplace.
8. Don’t Lollygag, but be Available where Managers Congregate
Opportunities can arise from unexpected places, and being available where managers congregate presents an opportunity for new employees to network and obtain valuable assignments. Managers sometimes make impromptu decisions about assignments and may offer them to the employees they interact with at the time. Employees that avoid lollygagging and make themselves available when possible have a higher chance of being selected for these opportunities.
9. Seek Out Several Mentors
Mentoring is an effective way for employees to obtain guidance, develop new skills, and position themselves for success. New employees must seek out several mentors with diverse experiences, personalities, and perspectives. Each mentor provides a different insight and can help the employee develop a well-rounded set of skills, experience, and knowledge. Additionally, employees should seek mentors outside their workplace to provide different perspectives and learn from the experiences of professionals in their field.
New employees face unique challenges when starting in a new workplace. Understanding the organizational culture, adhering to the established chain of command, maintaining a professional but friendly demeanor, avoiding office politics, being conscious of their body language in emails, acting professionally in all communication, letting excellence speak for itself, being available where managers congregate, and seeking out several mentors are crucial success factors to consider. By paying attention to these factors, new employees can position themselves for success and develop a positive reputation in their workplace.