Sometimes, at a new job, things just click. In no time at all, you feel like part of the team. You’re joking around with your co-workers, chatting casually with your boss, and, overall, feeling pretty comfortable with the way your new office works.
But a word to the wise: No matter how comfortable you feel or how awesome your new job is, there are certain precautions that all new employees should take—for the sake of your reputation, career advancement, and overall job success.
Sure, they’re things you may easily be able to get away with a few months into the role, but for now, it’s best to play it safe. For the good of your job, don’t try to get away with these five things—at least, not yet.
1. Griping About Your Previous Job or Boss
As you get to know your new colleagues, you’ll likely end up in conversations about your background—which can easily end up with you telling stories about your terrible previous job and the awful co-workers and boss you had there.
Sure, those stories may generate a few laughs—but as a brand new addition to the team, they can also put you in a negative light. Hearing you gripe about your prior colleagues can make your new co-workers see you as a complainer, someone who doesn’t value teamwork, and someone who will probably end up talking about your new co-workers behind their backs.
In a few months, when people know you, the quality of your work, and your loyalties, you may be able to get away with telling those stories without any repercussions. But for now—when the ink on your offer letter has barely dried—it’s better to keep things positive.
2. Taking Advantage of a Flexible Schedule
Most reasonable bosses are flexible, and they’ll understand if you have to come in late because of an early morning dentist appointment, leave early to take your dog to the vet, or take a long lunch just because.
But even if you have the most flexible boss in the world, to some extent, those privileges have to be earned. For your first few weeks on the job, it’s important to establish a reputation of being a hard worker—which means that unless a conflict is absolutely unavoidable, it’s best to show up on time (or early), stick around until the rest of the team leaves, and take a reasonable lunch break.
After a few weeks, you’ll have a better idea of how often it’s OK to take advantage of the flexibility—and since your reputation will have already been established, no one will be left questioning if you’re really leaving for a doctor’s appointment or skipping out early to catch happy hour.
3. Using Excess Sarcasm
You want your co-workers to get to know the real you, of course. And maybe the “real you” uses sarcasm or not-so-politically-correct humor to get some laughs.
While I certainly advocate being genuine in your interactions with your new team, crude humor and sarcasm can often come across as a bit harsh or even disrespectful. And that won’t set a great tone for your contributions to the team.
My advice? Tone it down for a bit until you have a better grasp on the rest of your team’s personalities and senses of humor—and they have a better idea of yours. Then, you can slowly (and appropriately) start working in your real sense of humor.
4. Judging Your Co-workers
When you’re new to the job, you may be tempted to form some judgements right away about certain colleagues—that they’re annoying, disorganized, disloyal, or sloppy.
But, while it’s somewhat unavoidable to make first impressions, those assumptions aren’t always accurate. After a few months of getting to know your colleagues, you’ll likely find out that underneath the seemingly sloppy work is a brilliantly creative mind, or that the incessantly chatty co-worker is actually a whiz at presentations.
So as difficult as it may be, withhold judgment when you’re brand new. Once you have a more firm grasp on your co-workers’ strengths and personalities, you’ll be able to make much more firm and accurate determinations about who you want to work with on certain projects, knowing exactly what to expect from each person.
5. Questioning Leadership
We often give the advice that you should come into a new job environment armed with suggestions and ready to solve problems—and that’s great.
The trouble comes when new employees immediately start questioning their bosses or executive leadership decisions without a true understanding of the problem, a valid suggestion for how to make a change, or an understanding of the boss’ temperament and how he or she will take the suggestion. In other words, they’re simply complaining.
To make the most effective suggestions—and eventually, changes—it can be beneficial to really dig into your department’s challenges, striving to understand what needs changing, what’s been attempted already, and why a change hasn’t happened yet. It’s also helpful to understand your boss’ personality and communication preferences, so that you can present suggestions in a way that’s most likely to be accepted.
Once that’s been determined, by all means, question anything and everything. But until then, keep digging.
Taking these extra precautions can feel like walking on eggshells. But tread carefully for just a little while, and you’ll have a much higher chance for success in the future.