Surviving your first day at a new job

My Business | Written by Absa Staff Writer

03 November 2017

You’re sitting in your car. Parked outside the building. It is the right building, isn’t it? You check the address again and confirm it is: your new office. Gathering your bags, you walk inside on the first day of your new job, hoping to make a good first impression. Your nerves are stretched tight and there’s added pressure: today you have to negotiate your way around, meet new colleagues and learn the office etiquette. Make your first day a success before you even step foot into the office by preparing ahead of time.

The week before your first day: Prepare

Don’t wait until the morning that you start in your new position to do some research. Find out what the route to the office is like at peak times and plan how to get there so that you don’t end up in a flat panic sitting in gridlocked traffic. Prepare a list of questions you want to ask your line manager to help ease you into the day and create conversation. Make sure you’ve packed lunch so that you won’t be struggling to concentrate halfway through the day because you’re starving and haven’t found the canteen yet. And deciding what to wear the night before means, you’ll look the part and you’ll save time getting ready in the morning. Also, make sure you are rested by getting an early night.

We posed a few questions about your first day on the job to Inez Taylor, Barclays Africa Onboarding Project Manager and Tendai Maidza, an HR consultant.

How do find your way around?

Inez: Your line manager or one of your team members should have welcomed you on the day that you arrive. You can ask this person to help you find your way on your first day. Your hiring manager is responsible for assisting you with issues such as parking arrangements, your access card and introductions to your other team members.

Tendai: In an ideal world, HR should have arranged all this prior to your first day or should at least be there to help you sort this out. Onboarding is an HR function and it’s a process which starts the day the person accepts the job offer. In a less than ideal situation, trust the receptionist. Receptionists know everyone in the company, are privy to information and usually wind up being the people liaising with the control room/security office who issue tags, etc.

What’s the best way to learn company etiquette in your brand new job?

Inez: This is something you’ll learn by being in the organisation. If your company has a new employees’ programme, enroll into the induction training which will help to orientate you.

Tendai: Be savvy and learn to assess the company culture through observing the behaviour of your department and team. Company culture isn’t something you pick up in a day or a week and it isn’t static. Culture is created and maintained by individuals in an organisation and each new person who joins has the potential to change the company culture.

Who do you report to?

Inez: In most cases, you will know who you report to as you would have met your line manager during the recruitment process. The resourcing consultant that liaised with you during your appointment would also have shared this information with you.

Tendai: In a situation where they weren’t involved in the recruitment process (or the manager who hired you has been replaced by someone new), there is no obvious company organogram available to you, no buddy (as in the buddy system) and HR isn’t helpful, then perhaps the best way to find out is to ask. Awkward, right? But that’s the only way to avoid further awkward and embarrassing situations. Ask anyone who has the same title and works in the same team as you do. A good way to ask is to find a managerial function which directly affects you and ask who you speak to about that, e.g. “Who signs off my timesheets…” or “Who approves my leave…?”

Which form of communication is acceptable?

Inez: All channels of communication are available for you to use. On your first day, I would recommend that you ask face-to-face questions to your line manager and team members.

Tendai: I recommend email for formal communication and to back up any verbal communication. Use SMS or WhatsApp for informal communication, while most companies have in-house communication tools for instant messaging.

Looking for more helpful articles on gaining work, money and people skills? Read more at ReadytoWork.

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.