Unless you're someone who thrives on challenge and change, the first week of a new job is stressful. Exciting, of course, but stressful. Everything from your commute to where the bathrooms are to your boss's quirks are brand new and even though you are highly qualified for the position, you're essentially clueless.

Unfortunately, you have to make a great impression that first week. Not a perfect impression, of course, but a great one. This is when everyone meets you, and your hiring manager is hoping that she made a great decision in choosing you over one of the other seven people she interviewed. What can you do to make that first week great?

I asked employee relations expert, Kathy Tougher, what you can do to make your first week awesome. Here are Kathy's top suggestions.

Be observant.

Pay attention to the culture and the norms of your new group. For example, does everyone come in early? Do they rush in at 8:00? Do they leave work at the stroke of 5:00? You want to fit in, not be the outlier.

Be nice to everyone.

The cliques in your new office existed before you joined. Don't get caught up in something you may regret later when you know your coworkers better.

Share sparingly.

Don't be tempted to over-share your likes, dislikes, life story, political views, etc. You can share your most personal thoughts and opinions when you know which colleagues are trustworthy or of "like minds". It takes time.

Take the initiative.

In a small office you can set up 15 minute "meet and greets" with everyone you will be working with. Remember to smile and project a positive image. First impressions don't allow for "do overs".

Remember to smile and project a positive image.

First impressions don't allow for "do-overs".

All these things are simple and effective and apply to any job. Tougher's last point about how first impressions don't allow for do-overs is especially critical. Sure, you can overcome a bad first impression, but it's a heck of a lot easier to start with a good first impression. Even if you've been brought in specifically to correct huge problems, don't walk in and say, "Hi, I'm Jane, and you've been doing it wrong." Right away, people will resent you. Remember, this is a big change for you, but it's also a big change for your new co-workers and new direct reports. (And, in most companies, the direct reports have little to no say about who their new boss will be, so if you walk in and criticize them straight off the bat, you'll lose their respect.)

Have you found any tricks that make your first week of work spectacular? Share them in the comments.

Published on: Feb 19, 2016
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