Monday, May 13, 2013

Being the new guy in the office

Today is my first day of work in more than four months. I am, as you may have noticed, extremely excited about this fact.

Part of the reason is that I am very good at being The New Guy.

Having worked at eight different places over the last 20 years, I'm well acquainted with finding my way through a new office, from figuring out the internal culture to exactly where they keep the coffee.

It's a process of constant adaptation, deference and friend-making.

It's also mentally exhausting, because it takes months to really get everything down. But it's worth the initial effort.

For example, I make a point of being proactively friendly when I start a new job. I'll aggressively seek people out and introduce myself.

Even if, as is the case about 20 percent of time, that person is just a visitor who doesn't even work there. In those situations, they're more frightened of me than anything else.

Mostly, though, you're able to make a good first impression by doing this.

Good first impressions are useful, because your co-workers are more likely to help you if they think you're a pleasant person. It also helps to project an aura of competence, especially if the way you do your job affects the way they do theirs.

I'm pretty good at projecting competence. That doesn't mean I have competence, only that I'm excellent at seeming as if I know what I'm doing.

I also go after what the professional self-help books like to call "low-hanging fruit." I find some relatively easy project to tackle early on, and when I complete it successfully, I make it seem as if it was a great problem I have solved to the long-lasting benefit of the organization.

People always seem to be impressed by this. Or maybe they're just taking pity on me and want me to feel good.

Either way, I feel like I've pulled one over on them.

Another great New Guy trick is the come-early-leave-late approach. Everyone knows you're going to be gung-ho when you first get there. And they'll expect the long-hours routine to fade out quickly.

But if you keep it up, people will start to think, "OK, this guy isn't going to bail on us. He's dedicated. I like that."

Or at least that's what I assume they're thinking. They may actually be thinking, "What a total suck-up. This guy will flame out in less than a year."

I choose to believe the former.


  1. Good luck Scott! I worked at alot of different places too and i know what you mean about tackeling the small project, but in most cases it is something that has been hanging over the departments head for a long time but no one has time to do it so when you suceed at completing it and doing well they are so pleased and relieved then they know they can hand over more and more to you and before you know it you are moving up the ladder, atleast this is what has happened to me every place i worked but my problem is after a few years I get bored and move on. I now work for myself and I find it much more satisfying and I cant get bored because I can change things up all the time!
    Any way, my best wishes to you and your family!

  2. Great insight! Thanks for commenting.

  3. These are all great tips -- tips that I wish I would have known about when I started my very first "big girl" job a year and a half ago. Jumping into a new job definitely takes some getting used to.

    I was pretty shy when I first started my job (especially since the marketing department I was in was full of very close-knit girls), and after finally feeling comfortable and making friends after a few months, I took it upon myself to introduce others and help out new employees coming in to feel more comfortable with what I've often heard is a very intimidating team. I think it's a good way to give back, especially if you know what being the "new guy" feels like.

    Hope all continues to go well for you!

  4. Great idea, rezuri, and excellent thoughts all around. Thanks for stopping by!