Five things you wish your boss had told you

Starting a new job can put your social skills to the test. We’ve put together five points to help you avoid awkward situations and settle in
by Bethan Rees

Joining a new company can be daunting, even if you know you’re well qualified for the job. Sometimes the workload isn’t the intimidating element; it’s the social side that can be uncomfortable if you’re not careful. 

Webonboarding, a cloud solution designed to help businesses manage the employee ‘onboarding’ process, conducted a global survey in July 2017 of over 4,000 office workers. Results show that 39% of employees encountered problems during the onboarding (or integrating) process when starting a new job, which in turn lead to employee dropouts, with 10% leaving after a few days. 

As much as it is the employers’ responsibility to integrate a new employee well (training, ensuring a desk is available and introducing everyone), it is also the new starter’s responsibility to ensure they present themselves in the best possible light.

Start yourself off on the right foot with these five pointers you wish your boss had told you before starting your new job. It’s not too late to implement some of them.

1) Solid introductions are important
Your line/hire manager will hopefully have notified your team (at the very least) that there is a new member joining. If formal introductions aren’t made, don’t be afraid to ask for them. 

If you’re unsure how to introduce yourself, thinking of it as an ‘elevator pitch’ can help. This is a quick summary of your background and experience, so called because you should be able to present it in the same duration as an elevator ride.
2) Remember namesThis goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. The first week for a new starter can be intense and overwhelming, with information being thrown from all directions. In this situation, while making introductions, it’s easy to forget another employee’s name. It happens to the best of us, so don’t be embarrassed if you forget the name instantly  – the key is to ask them to repeat their name as soon as possible if this happens.

There are some ways to help names stick too. First, pay attention. It might sound simple, but this is the easiest way to remember. Second, repeat the name back. Some find associations helpful when trying to remember names, whether this is alliteration (HR Helen), using a mental image to link to their name or job role, or using songs where their name is included, 'Barbara Ann' for example. 
3) Be culturedNo – don’t go rushing out to the nearest gallery. By this, I mean try and discover what the company’s culture is as soon as possible. Culture covers everything from dress code to lunch breaks, offering tea to others to leaving at 5.30pm on the dot. You should be given a welcome pack, or briefed on some of these issues, but some of them are more ‘unwritten’. If you’re really unsure of something, ask your peers. They were once newcomers too. Business cultures differ from company to company, and it’s important you don’t disrupt this. 

A hard and fast rule for dress code, especially on the first day, is that it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Of course, some businesses welcome jeans and trainers, some don’t. So be quick to observe what your peers are wearing, and adjust accordingly. 
4) Body language speaks a thousand words
Humans communicate non-verbally through conscious and unconscious movements and postures all the time, and this is so important to recognise in an office. 

There is one theory worth trying to integrate into your work. First published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1999, Tanya Chartrand, former assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University, and John Bargh, former professor of psychology at New York University, wrote a landmark article on what they coined as the ‘chameleon effect’. This refers to the mirroring of others mannerisms and postures, and in the work place this can help by creating an unconscious rapport. The study suggests that this can facilitate the smoothness of interactions, and can increase our likeability. 

Backing this up, a 2014 study produced by in Italy by psychologists indicates that mimicking is processed much quicker than verbal communication, and is likely to regulate social interactions by providing information to each other about the levels of sincerity and trustfulness. 

However, be careful when doing this as if the mirroring is obvious, it might come across creepy or annoying. 

A further study by Chartrand and Bargh, with addition of Professor N.P. Leander, demonstrates that mimicking might result in people feeling threatened after creating feelings of “coldness”. 

So, be careful, practice empathy and active listening skills. You’ll find yourself genuinely mirroring, so don’t force it. 

5) Making mistakes is OK
Everyone makes mistakes, and as a newcomer to any business, bumps are bound to happen on your road to success. It’s what you do from there that counts. 

Present a plan of action to your manager/boss. How will you rectify the situation?  Also, try and turn it into a positive; what have you learnt from this and how will you do things differently next time? 
The worst thing you could do in this situation is point fingers at others. This can quickly backfire on you, especially if you’re a newcomer. 

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email
Published: 16 Feb 2018
  • Career Development
  • The Review
  • Young Professionals Network
  • Young People
  • culture change

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