New jobs and workplaces can be a challenge, even if you went through a rigorous onboarding process before starting work. Most businesses will cut beginners some slack who make mistakes during their first few weeks on the job. At the same time, managers appreciate employees who work hard to master their responsibilities and strive to learn from the examples of their colleagues.
To quickly establish a track record for competence that will help you succeed at your new job or career move, use the following methods:
Overcoming challenges in your new position
Asking for help when necessary
Finding a mentor
Regularly asking for feedback
Overcoming struggles in a new role
To be a long-term, valued employee at your new job, you need to be a hard-working, courteous professional with skills that help the company flourish. You also need to make sure people in your new workplace actually know about your skills and accomplishments, rather than just assuming they’ll acknowledge the work you do.
To establish your reputation as a reliable employee while advocating for yourself at work, take notes about your work experiences during your first week on the job. Note moments where you interacted with customers, presented information, or collaborated with colleagues. If there are specific responsibilities or tasks you completed well, these are strong points you should promote by offering to help out colleagues or volunteering for projects that require the skills you’ve learned.
If there are tasks you struggled with during your first week at your new job, be proactive and take steps to improve your proficiency. Sometimes you can refine problem-solving skills and advance your career by reading how-to guides, practicing certain methods at home, or simply being more diligent with your time management. In other situations, you can and should ask for help.
Ask for help if you’re not sure how to do something
If you don’t know how to complete a key task at your new job, it’s better to ask for help as soon as you can. Many co-workers and supervisors will be happy to help you overcome the hurdles you encounter. Pretending to know what you’re doing and making the same mistakes over and over again, will leave your colleagues with a bad impression of you.
When asking for help in your workplace, be mindful of how busy your colleagues are, and ask if they have time to assist you. If a colleague is swamped with work or trying to meet a deadline, you’re probably better off asking another co-worker for assistance.
When asking questions about how to complete a work task, try to avoid asking open-ended questions, such as “How should I do this?”
Instead, ask more specific questions to get a brief but clear answer. These sorts of questions are easier to answer on the spot and show your colleagues that you’re thinking about how to solve specific problems in the workplace.
Find a mentor who can help you adjust to the new job
For long-term help acclimating to your new job and taking on more responsibilities, find someone in your workplace who’s willing to be your mentor. Some companies make a point of pairing up new hires with veteran employees who will get them up to speed on vital job responsibilities. In workplaces without such support structures, you need to think carefully about who is best qualified to regularly offer advice, feedback, and answers to your questions.
The ideal workplace mentor is someone who is friendly and proficient in the skills you want to refine. Ask this individual to become your mentor in a face-to-face meeting, explaining the goals you want to achieve and how long you hope the mentorship will last (generally somewhere between four to six months). Being a mentor can be a major commitment, so be respectful if someone declines your request, and express your earnest gratitude if a co-worker accepts.
According to a recent article on Gallup, only 12% of a surveyed group of employees felt that their companies have a good onboarding process for new hires. Additionally, up to 50% of new hires tend to leave their new workplace sometime within the first 18 months of employment.
Get feedback on your progress acclimating to the new job
Even if you’ve grown comfortable with your new job’s responsibilities, you may still be unknowingly making subtle mistakes, overlooking a professional guideline, or overstepping certain boundaries. For this reason, you should regularly check in with your supervisor every few weeks to gauge your progress, and be open to receiving constructive criticism to help you go further in your career.
- Is [Method Here] the best way to do [Task Here]?
- I’ve been struggling with [Task Here]; do you have any thoughts on what I could do differently?
- I feel like I understand [Task Here] fairly well; do you think there’s anything I’m missing?
- Am I doing well?
- Are you going to fire me?
- How can I do better?
- Why am I having so much trouble?
Aim to establish yourself as a reliable employee right away.
Reach out to colleagues for advice, mentors for guidance, and supervisors for feedback if you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed.
Double-check your assumptions about how to best perform work tasks and never grow complacent.