How To Ace Your First 90 Days at Work

Published by Jethro Tan on

Are you starting a new job and feel like your nerves are getting to you? That’s okay, it’s normal. Whether you’re a fresh graduate or have been working for the past 10 years, everyone can feel this due to a number of reasons. 

Not only do you need to get comfortable with the new job and environment, but you also have to get a grasp on this company’s work pace, procedures, and social norms as quickly as possible. This is one of the many reasons why some people tend to act in an awkward manner on their first day. No need to worry, here are some tips from my personal experience on how you can look and act like you brought your A-Game to your workplace on your first 90 days.

1. Be friendly. Smile.

Don’t be afraid to say hi. A simple greeting can go a long way, especially if you’re new. When I see someone early in the office, I go and greet them a good morning. You will want to do this from day one since this is one of the easiest ways to start and build a friendly work relationship with your colleagues. 

We don’t want people to see us as standoffish and unfriendly. We want to look approachable and easy to talk to. Now I’m not telling you to go saying hi to everyone you pass by but at least smile and try to look friendly.

Keep in mind though that not everyone is willing to receive our greetings with open arms. Some just want to do their work and get through their day with as little distractions as possible so don’t get disheartened if they don’t look or greet you back. The important thing is that you portray yourself as someone with a positive attitude, willing to learn, grow, and work with others in this new environment.

2. Feel things out.

This is important. If you want to get along well with colleagues, you need to first understand that there are limitations to what you can do or share with them. Don’t just expect them to accept your invite to go check out your favorite band this weekend or hear how terrible your commute was. Remember, you’re new, still a stranger to them. All we can hope to do is some small talk at the beginning and gradually work your way up to earn their trust and respect.

3. Ask for help but only if you really need to.

Since you’re new at the job, it’s okay to ask if there is something you don’t understand. We need to keep in mind however that it still takes some of your colleagues’ time to ask these questions so be sure to make it as quick and concise as possible. Remember to ask yourself first before asking anyone else. Can your problem be answered by a simple search on the internet? Is the information available in a standard operating procedures manual they provided? Do you even really need to ask this question in order to complete this task?

Show your colleagues that you’ve exhausted all other options before you decide to take up their time so that you don’t give a bad impression and present yourself as unreliable.

4. Set expectations early.

Make sure that others know what is acceptable and not acceptable to you early on. We can call these boundaries. To do this, you need to be aware of your actions towards others so you don’t give false expectations. Like if a colleague messages you on the weekends to ask for results on a task, then you respond and give it to them, you may have unwittingly set an expectation that you will always reply to them even on the weekends. It can be very easy for others to misunderstand and expect things from us that we’re not comfortable doing, so it’s best to be clear about what you consider okay sooner rather than later.

5. Pace yourself.

Since you’re new, you might be eager to gain the approval of your peers and your boss. You might volunteer to do some extra work to show that you can be relied on. While this is a good idea and motivation starter, this can easily get out of hand. Doing this has its advantages, but more often than not, do this too much and you’ll find yourself with more tasks than you can handle.

It’s easy to go from handling your own tasks to handling multiple tasks that aren’t even supposed to be yours, all because you said that you were willing to do them. The last thing you want to happen is for you to be burned out and overwhelmed in your first few weeks of starting this job. Remember to pace yourself and only do extra tasks that you know you can handle.

The important thing is that you portray yourself as someone with a positive attitude, willing to learn, grow, and work with others in this new environment.

Keep these tips in mind when you’re starting a new job or share it to a friend who might need it. Best of luck on this new adventure!


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