26 Dec 2017 16:38 IST

Making your first work spot a happy place

Be bold, be confident, be nice and be humble. Stay focused on your contribution

After joining a company, your priority shifts from landing a good job, to settling into it. Many organisations strive to make your experience with the company as memorable and rewarding as they can, right from the induction and the first day. Most of them do a decent job too.

However, what truly matters, what can make your first job really rewarding, depends on what you do for several weeks that follow your joining. Here are a few tips I have found useful. It isn’t an exhaustive list, but it will help make your initial days and weeks, smooth and comfortable.

Focus on building relationships with colleagues : Reaching out with a ‘hi’ or a ‘hello’ when you see your colleagues in the elevator or hallway won’t hurt. This builds a comfort level when you need to reach out to them for help, and if they need to reach out to you. Familiarity does not always breed contempt; more often than not, it leads to comfort.

Avoid excessive self-talk : It is important for people to know who you are and what you are about, but when it comes to self-introductions, moderation is the key. Those who wish to know more about you will anyway ask and you can share with them the information they seek.

Typically, in orientation programmes, there is a session on introductions. In other countries, I have noticed that the participants or colleagues do not boast about the B-school they are from, even when they are from an Ivy League institute such as Stanford or Harvard. It is only in India that we overemphasise our degrees and pedigrees.

Watch your attitude : Often, we hear seasoned managers say that college freshers have an ‘attitude issue’ or ‘suffer from a case of entitlement’. It is a no-brainer that this is not a good reputation to build.

Please do not expect too much too soon, or even appear patronising and better informed than experienced employees. It is important to earn one’s stripes and stars. Attitude can sometimes be condescending with support staff or lower-ranking staff within an organisation. This is not a good attribute either. Learning to relate professionally and respectfully with all cadres of employees is a good habit, that will stand you in good stead.

Be punctual : The easiest way to build a negative reputation is to arrive late at work and leave early. Don’t read this wrong. You do not need to overwork to prove your sincerity (although when you are learning everything and wish to use every opportunity to learn, it may not hurt), but being a late-comer and building a reputation for tardiness is no way to kick-start your career.

If you notice many of your colleagues showing up late to work, choose to not emulate them. Even when flexi-time is practised, I would ask of new employees to get to work early.

Don’t become part of a work clique : Another thing we often notice is that all new graduates, be it engineers or MBAs who belong to a batch, form a group and hang out together all the time. Or they choose to make friends with colleagues who are of the same age.

Like-minded people usually tend to sniff each other out. After all, without a bunch of work friends, workplace does tend to feel cold and lonely. However, going to such an extent as to give other colleagues a feeling that they are not a part of your clique is not a good idea.

Avoid excessive use of social media or smartphone : Obsession with our smartphones all the time — while attending a meeting or while having lunch with colleagues — is not doing you any good. Studies have confirmed that anyone with a smartphone tends to look at it over 100 times a day.

To address this unbelievable obsession, one B-school, present in Pune and Bangalore, has banned students from carrying their phones inside the classroom. If they are found with one, the phone is seized and returned only after the semester is over. Students are informed about this at the time of admission.

Another B-school in Hyderabad has tackled the problem by installing jammers in the classrooms. Recently, I heard of a reputed organisation asking a bunch of management trainees to leave (read: terminated) when they did not curb their obsession with smartphones, despite multiple warnings.

Stick to the deadlines : While assigning tasks or projects with deadlines, organisations are usually reasonable in setting completion dates. It is okay to discuss and ask for extra time if you experience heavy workload or genuinely need more time due to other reasons. What is unacceptable is committing to a date and not delivering. Handing in the assignment on time is key to building an image of being a dependable employee.

Avoid the clamour for ‘shiny’ tasks : Not everything an organisation wants you to work on will be a glamorous project. In fact, not even what the CEO does. Be willing to work on some of the monotonous and less interesting jobs.

Be your own cheerleader : For those of you who grew up with getting a gold star at school for every assignment or received accolades at B-school for extra-curricular activity you participated in, the corporate life can hold a few surprises.

Remember that you are paid to do a good job. So do not expect a pat on the back every time you finish a task or a presentation. Inspiring leaders and managers do understand the power of recognition and always let you know when you do a good job. However, most managers, including well-meaning ones, may not necessarily do so. So learn to find joy in doing a good work without waiting for external recognition or validation all the time.

The points mentioned above are just a few pointers to get started. Be bold, be confident, be nice and be humble. And stay focused on contribution. You will find your work spot a happy place to be in.