Monday, July 12, 2021

Being the new guy in the office...again

(NOTE: This post originally appeared here on May 13, 2013, my first day at Vitamix. I bring it back today, my first day at Goodyear, because it all still holds true.)

Today is my first day of work in 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.

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.

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