The search for a new job can be brutal. For some, weeks of looking, applying, and interviewing can turn into months or even longer. Once you finally land the job and have a start date on the calendar, a sense of relief, optimism, excitement, and a little (or a lot) of anxiety often come next.

Onboarding new employees is critically important to both hiring organizations because there is a relatively short period of time to get the acclimated and productive--or risk losing them to another company. 50 percent of all voluntary turn-over happens within the first year and many of this moves are prompted by employees feeling like there is a better fit for them elsewhere.

However, getting new employees up-to-speed fast isn't just the employer's responsibility. Newly hired employees need to do their part to make the relationship with their leadership and team work. Too often, new employees make avoidable, irritating mistakes that can make it difficult to become "on of team."

As a new employee, you know that through the application and interview process you only meet a handful of people. This likely includes a recruiter, a human resources representative, your manager, and if you're lucky, a good cross-section of the team with which you'll be working. You might meet three out of 10 of the people you'll be working with day-to-day before you start. Smaller organizations often expand these introductions and increase the number to as much as seven out of 10. Either way, for most starting a new job, you walk in Day 1 not knowing many people and having to introduce yourself over and over again.

You know the important thing about first impressions is to be prepared and put your best self forward. You also know that the first couple of weeks are critical, getting as much understanding of the organization and the role as possible so that you can start producing the great work you were brought on to do. These new relationships and early contributions are so important to establishing your reputation that it's no surprise that the entire experience can get a bit stressful.

A little bit of stress can be an advantage when you channel that energy properly. If left unchecked, it can grow into a distraction that takes you off-track fast and risks having a disappointing start to the new job you wanted so badly.

There are a handful of things that can really irk the existing staff in your new company. Avoiding these behaviors can help ensure that you get off on the right foot instead of having to backtrack or apologize for misunderstandings early on.

  1. Successful new employees never approach the problem as the "know it all" expert with the only solution. You were hired to bring specific expertise or additional horsepower (or both) to the organization. However, taking every opportunity to remind people of your superiority is more likely to cause people to back away instead of build collaboration. Take the first couple of weeks to learn everything about the organization and broader business to ensure that your recommendations and contributions make sense.
  2. Successful new employees never treat the existing team as a single, like-minded unit. As is true for all groups, your new team is comprised of individuals. Each deserves the opportunity to get to know you as the unique person they are.
  3. Successful new employees never repeatedly reference their last job. This is especially annoying if you make it sound better than where you are today. Saying over and over again, "when I was at..., we did it this way" only leaves people thinking that you might be better off going back there. Keep comparisons of the two organizations to a minimum (no more than three in the first month) and focus what you share on any true best or worst case practices that are helpful to solving the problem at hand.
  4. Successful new employees never treat the organization as a pit stop on your professional journey. New coworkers and organization leadership want to feel that their teams are "in it" for the long haul, even when they understand the transient nature of the workforce. Suggestions early on that you're there to pick up a specific skill then be on your way discourages others from making the kind of investment in a relationship with you that will be valuable regardless of how long you stay with the company or business unit.


  1. Successful new employees ask questions. Asking questions demonstrates two important things. First, it signals to others that you're interested in learning and second, it shows that you realize you don't know everything. Sincere interest and a little humility go a long way with any new team.
  2. Successful new employees make an effort to understand office norms. There will be plenty of time for shaking things up and making positive changes. The first couple of weeks is, generally speaking, not the time to do this. With the exception of any illegal or unethical practices, office norms around the working hours employees keep, the turn-around time on email, dress code, etc. are all things to make an effort to get to know and adopt in the beginning.

Avoiding some annoying and off-putting behaviors can ensure that you get off on the right foot in any new organization. Establishing yourself as a team player with a positive attitude is key to creating the kind of lasting contributions that will benefit everyone.

If you're interested in reading more about how to be an effective team player, consider reading about Google's research on what to do and what not to do.