3 Basic Mistakes You Can’t Blame on the Fact That You're the New Person (Sorry!)
The first few days of a new job are always a combination of fun and confusion. You’re excited to start something brand new, but you don’t know the lay of the land yet—and that often leads to a lot of innocent mistakes.
Maybe you’ll go to the wrong conference room for a training session, or perhaps you accidentally emailed “desk4help” instead of “helpdesk” with a question about your computer. These types of errors are almost expected for anyone starting a new gig, but here are a few slip-ups that you just cannot blame on the fact that you aren’t comfortable in your new surroundings.
1. You Keep Forgetting Your Teammates’ Names
You might be thinking, “That’s crazy. How would mistaking Cheryl for Brandon make me look bad? I’m still new, remember?” While that might be an extreme example, it’s not a great look to mix up your colleagues’ names, especially if this isn’t your very first day on the job.
It would be easy to think this is an innocent mistake that you can make over and over again, but let’s apply this to a (potentially) real situation. You have a question about your very first project as a member of the team and need some crucial information ASAP. And then, you go and ask Cheryl for those details. Except his name is Brandon. That probably won’t make him want to jump out of his seat and help you if you’ve already met more than a few times. And if it keeps happening, don’t be surprised if those people eventually tune you out altogether.
2. You’re Trying to Make Unnecessary Changes, Even Though You’re Not Up to Speed
Here’s a trap I fell into in at a previous job. I was so excited to get started that I immediately started thinking about ways in which the entire team could optimize its process around, well, just about everything. And because I have a big mouth at times, I wasn’t shy about speaking up about my ideas. Which is perfectly fine, except for the fact that at that point, I still had a lot to learn about the company, the team dynamic, and how things had been (successfully) done in the past.
When this occurred to me, I realized two other things as well. First, I was coming off as a huge jerk to the people who had just hired me to be a part of the team. And secondly, I saw that I wasn’t taking the time to acknowledge the fact that the group had done some pretty excellent work before I arrived. Many of my ideas had already been through the trial-and-error process. So, by trying to be the perfect hire, I got myself off to a pretty rocky start. But once I stepped back and refocused my attention on learning how things were done before offering a million and one suggestions, everyone started warming up to me.
3. You’re Not Speaking Up Enough
I bet you think that this completely contradicts the previous mistake. And to some degree, you might be right. But also consider how easy it is to sit back during team meetings, or even during just casual get-to-know-you chats in the kitchen. I’m not suggesting that if you’re an introvert that it’s up to you to simply “get over it.” But I am encouraging you to speak up if you have a good idea that you’re keeping to yourself just because you think the new person on the team shouldn’t overstep his or her bounds.
Don’t forget that you were hired because your boss (and plenty of other people) thought you were awesome, and more importantly they made you the offer you couldn’t refuse because they were excited to get your input on some critical things. So while you should avoid trying to blow up everything the group has done in the past, don’t be afraid to suggest something you think will help move the team forward.
I know you have a lot of things to worry about as you start a new job. There are plenty of little things that you’ll need to learn quickly to get up to speed and become a reliable member of the organization. But even though you’ll probably be forgiven for a lot of things, don’t rely on the “I’m still new” excuse for everything that might go wrong. Sometimes those errors are solely on you—but that’s OK because the fact that you’re reading this is proof that you’re willing to acknowledge and learn from anything that didn’t go exactly the way you would have originally liked.
Photo of confused person courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author