(*Without being seen as a brownnoser, bulldozer or brat.)
It’s January—a time of new beginnings and, for many people, new jobs. If you’re in your first few months as a new employee, you are probably eager to make an impact. At the same time, you want to be careful not to rock the boat too much. How can you strike a balance between productivity and politeness? Here are five tips to guide the way:
1. Listen more than you talk. As my grandfather used to say, there’s a reason you have two ears and one mouth. The best way to learn the ropes and make friends is to listen carefully to the way people in your organization interact. People love to talk about themselves, so give colleagues and clients the opportunity to share their advice, guidance and tricks of the trade. Listening is a great way to win friends and influence people.
2. Network up and down your organization. In other words, bond with the mailroom guy. Many employees spend all of their time networking with higher-ups, when the truth is that to get things done in an organization you need connections all over. Ask a wide variety of people to lunch or hang out in the kitchen and introduce yourself to everyone who walks in. You never know from whom you might need a favor in the future.
3. Be a problem solver. As you join projects and begin to make a contribution with your work, be the employee who offers solutions to problems, not the employee who is always complaining. Being known as the go-to problem solver is a great reputation to cultivate.
4. Seek feedback. Instead of wondering what your new employer thinks of you, take the initiative and ask. You can do this informally with colleagues—“Hey, since I’m new, I would love your feedback on my presentation.”—or formally through regular performances reviews with your manager. If you choose the latter, work with your boss to create specific goals so you will be able to measure your success moving forward.
5. Don’t curb your enthusiasm. Finally, never underestimate the power of a smile. Be yourself, but let your passion and enjoyment of your work shine through. Gloomy guys and gals are generally not high on the list for promotions.
Lindsey Pollak is the author of Getting from College to Career: 90 Things to Do Before You Join the Real World and writes a daily career advice blog at http://lindseypollak.blogspot.com.