Success in the Workplace

Professor talking to students

Settling In

Settling into a new job can be exciting and rewarding. Or it can be a period of frustration and dissatisfaction. Why? Your first day, week, month and year on the job represent a period of intense learning and transition.

There is good news. You are or have recently been a student. You're great at learning. But as you know, learning takes you out of your comfort zone. Get ready for it by anticipating what formal supports might be in place to assist you in this new environment. And if supports are not in place, create them.

Some organizations provide orientations to help speed up your learning. Others do not. Some call it "Orientation," some call it "Training" and others call it "Onboarding".

Employers host welcome/onboarding programs for new staff for a variety of reasons:

  • It supports staff with the transition and in getting up to speed regarding their role and the organization.
  • They want to make the new staff member feel comfortable.
  • They've hired a lot of staff over a short period, so this creates a spirit of community and makes good use of everyone's time.
  • They have discovered that new staff orientation programs reduce errors and communication problems on the job.
  • They have specialized ways of doing things and want to make sure everyone knows these ways.
  • They want to retain staff and believe this is one way to accomplish this goal. Onboarding programs help form loyalty to the organization, foster organizational culture and can increase a new employee's confidence in their decision to join this organization.

Onboarding programs can be formal or informal, last 2 hours or 2 weeks, and introduce you to many people in the organization at all levels or introduce you to only one or two. The nature, size and duration of the program really depends on the organization.

Common Onboarding Topics

Who are we as an organization and what is it like to work here?

  • Corporate culture - what we value in our workplace, what qualities we think create a good employee
  • Mission and strategy - who we serve and where we're going in the short- and long-term
  • Organization structure - who reports to who, how many people we employ, where we operate locally, nationally and internationally

How can you more easily navigate the people and places in our organization?

  • Introductions to management and relevant staff
  • Walkabout to ensure you know your way around the office, building, campus

What should you know about your job and how will you be evaluated?

  • General performance management practices - i.e., how we assess and reward good performance
  • Review of your job description and job expectations
  • Departmental goals and objectives
  • Individual goals and objectives

What are our relevant organization policies and procedures?

  • Safeguarding of company information
  • Protecting of company assets
  • Health and safety in the workplace
  • Internal job posting practices
  • Complaint resolution
  • Payroll and benefits sign-up and procedures
  • Overtime and vacation

What other administrative and housekeeping details should you know or have set up?

  • Computer and phone set up, including passwords
  • Emergency contact information
  • Work hours, dress code, etc.

Business Etiquette

Workplace etiquette is about how to behave in the workplace, formally or informally, as well as how to adapt to the rules of etiquette that might be different depending on the environment and the organizational culture. 

Your command of etiquette can enable you to make a great first impression whenever you meet someone new in the workplace, feel more comfortable interacting at business and social functions, and display confidence and proper protocol at the dining table with your colleagues and bosses. Professionalism in the workplace is important in developing and maintaining your reputation. 

Making a Difference

If you want to advance in your workplace and be well respected, you need to avoid the dilemma of the person who strives to "just do the bare minimum." One way to make sure you make a lasting and positive impression on your boss and colleagues is to show initiative and “think like an owner”. Andy Robinson - Careerealism Approved Expert - tells you how:

  1. Show passion and enthusiasm
  2. Treat your customers and clients like gold
  3. Take care of your people
  4. Deliver more than expected
  5. Roll up your sleeves whenever necessary
  6. Get better and better - continuously improve
  7. Systemize things
  8. Stay focused on cash flow and spend like it's your money
  9. Think ahead: see the big picture

Moving On

Making the decision to move on can be a tough decision, but it is necessary at times. As a general rule of thumb, it's easier to move up in the same company than move on to a new company. So make sure you’ve exhausted possibilities within before considering moving out. Remember, there will always be challenges in any job and any workplace, so you’ll want to ensure that you’ve tried to work through any issues before giving up on a job. A new job will likely have it’s challenges as well. Regardless of your reason for leaving, keep in mind that it is easier to find employment when you're gainfully employed rather than when you are unemployed. Being employed means:

  • You're more likely to be part of a network that you can connect with.
  • You're continuing to build achievements that can go on your resume, thus enhancing your marketability.
  • Your resume will not have gaps that you would have to explain at your interviews.
  • You may experience greater confidence when you go out to interview for other jobs, as you are already employed.
  • Financially speaking, you also have income to support you and a stronger position from which to negotiate salary and benefits in your next position.

Having a good reason to quit AND finding the new job before you quit will help you in the long run because you can be confident in telling your career story in future interviews. It will help to show that you've taken your career moves and job changes seriously. You're also more likely to build a stronger network and reference bank because you’ve worked to maintain positive relationships. Your network is key and you should never burn bridges, so ensure you leave the organization on a positive note. 

Additional Resources