8 Ways To Go From "Dumb New Guy" To "What A Guy!"

Maybe you got a promotion, moved to a new department, or you're starting an entirely new job. However it happened, you are off to a fresh start! Now you need to think about making your fresh start a great start that will set you up for tremendous success in this new position. In order to do that you need people to accept you and help you along the way, which means you are going to have to win over the new people you are working with.

Here are 8 things you can do in order to win over your new team and use this new beginning to catapult yourself to higher levels of success:

1. Make friends.
You want friends. And a lot of them. Friends will look out for you and help you out. Friends at work will warn you of potential problems and pitfalls and make you aware of opportunities and resources. Friends can save you from having to learn hard lessons and dramatically shorten your learning curve. It is in your best interest to win people over quickly.

What is the best way to make a friend? Be a friend and do friendly things. Actively look for ways to help people, build them up, and help them be successful at the things that are important to them. While you don't want to overwhelm people with attention, like a puppy whose owner just came home, you should go out of your way to make people feel comfortable and appreciated. Listen to them, acknowledge their input and value, and accept and act on their advice when appropriate.

2. Dress for success.
How you dress is just as important at your new job as it was during your interview, because just like at the interview, people are going to make initial judgements about you based on your appearance. Don't let appearance distract others from your real talents, but rather complement them, meaning maintain a style of dress that is customary for your type of work and fits in the culture of your new company or department.

I once worked for a company where all the management wore burgundy work shirts with the company logo on it, rented from a uniform service. Signing up for the rental service and getting 5 clean, burgundy work shirts put in my locker each week helped me fit much more quickly. Not sure what appropriate dress will be? Take note of what everyone is wearing while touring the company during your interview. I did this when I interviewed for a corporate position with a retail chain. I noted that all the senior managers wore a long sleeved white dress shirt and solid color tie. I went and bought several of them and went into work my first day looking the part and immediately fitting in.

3. Work harder.
New bosses and co-workers expect to see you sweat a little, in some cases literally. 20 years ago I took a job as a Quality Assurance Manager for a glass plant. At 23 years old, my job was to critique the work of people who had been there for decades. Nearly every job in the glass plant required a lot of manual labor in a very hot, uncomfortable environment. My job however, required me to carry a clipboard and pen. You can imagine the opinion many guys immediately had of me and my position. I didn't realize it at the time, but maybe the best thing I did was sweat some at this job.

Instead of simply standing there with my clipboard waiting for products to come to me for inspection, I would help guys with whatever tasks they gave me and then assist them in carrying or moving the products for the quality check. The products were big and heavy and I would sweat just like everyone else. In fact I remember someone yelling out "Hey, look at the new guy sweating over here!". After the initial razing though, I was accepted and treated very well. Roll your sleeves up, get your hands dirty, and you will win your co-workers trust.

On a side note, you really don't have to put in much extra time to create the impression of being a hard worker. Most people run to their work stations at 9:01am and sprint from the building like it’s on fire at 4:59pm. Coming into work 20 minutes early and leaving 15 minutes late will usually make you the first one in and the last one out. You can spend that time catching up on email or preparing for the next day, but those extra minutes will pay off with you attracting the right kind of attention from the boss.

4. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
Everyone wants to be understood and appreciated and will welcome the effort you make to learn about what they do. Rather than stepping back and taking a bird's eye view of the company's processes and business, seek to see the various jobs through the eyes of the people doing them every day. The best way to do that is to make time to work alongside people, pitch in, and ask questions.

People will appreciate that you are "walking a mile in their shoes". Demonstrate that you understand what they are showing you by asking questions that encourage them to share their expertise and insights. After you have spent the time doing the job beside them and listening to why they do it a particular way, they are going to be much more open to listening to you and your new ideas.

5. Immerse yourself in the culture.
In the movie "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" there is a scene where Willie, Short Round, and Indiana walk into an Indian village, and are welcomed by the impoverished villagers, who invite them to dinner. At the dinner, several of the local women put a gray gruel mix in their bowls. Willie was horrified at the sight, and said she couldn't eat the food. The generous villagers, who did not understand English, were watching intently to see their visitors eat. Indiana kept smiling and said in English, "That's more food than these people eat in a week. They're starving. You're insulting them, and you're embarrassing me. Eat it." Willie finally relented and ate the gruel while doing her best to smile in order not to insult the villagers, who were very happy to watch their visitors eat the meal they had prepared.

Indiana Jones understood the importance of fitting in to the culture, particularly when you are the new guy and people are going out of their way to help you. Just like individual people have their own unique personalities, every company has a unique culture. The company's customs, lingo, and traditions may be new to you, but you should participate in the activities everyone else does. Remember, you are the outsider, so don't expect everyone to conform to you. You need to be ready to at least make a visible effort to conform to the company's culture if you want to be accepted.

6. Build bridges.
Look for ways to have shared experiences as soon as possible. When I started working in a unionized foundry as a shift supervisor there was a lot of tension between labor and management. Sometimes our sand molds would spill which created a huge mess. It was a horrible, hot, sweaty job cleaning it up. However, I would roll up my sleeves, get down on my knees and crawl under the production line with a shovel just like everyone else and get to work. Sharing in the pain of cleaning up the mess got me accepted into the group very quickly.

The best way to build a bridge is to jump right into a problem with everyone else. It may be tempting to back away from something that you are unsure about but nothing beats rolling up your sleeves and working alongside someone who is struggling. It is a quick way to bond.

Some quick ways to build bridges:
1. Buy candy or gifts from parents selling them on behalf of their kids' school.
2. Participate in the football pool.
3. Participate in the department's pot luck lunch.
4. Help buy someone a birthday gift.
5. Participate in decorating for the holidays.
6. Buy and wear company logo clothing when appropriate.
7. Walk with co-workers during lunch time.
8. Attend any event after hours that you are invited to when appropriate.
9. Offer to help.
10. Say thank you.

7. Don't complain.
New people don't get to complain. Complaining is often viewed by employees as a privilege for those who have served their time. People are going to expect you to be not only grateful for your new position, but willing to accept minor inconveniences as part of your probationary period.

On the TV comedy The Office (Season 3 Episode 8) new girl Karen Filippelli was sitting at her desk and smelled something she didn't like. When she mentioned it to Phyllis Smith, Phyllis said she would help Karen find the source of the smell. After Karin realized it was Phyllis' perfume, she said something. Not only did Phyllis take offense, but later on, her co-worker Stanley said, "I don't know who these new people think they are. I have sat down wind of Phyllis' stinky perfumes for years. Never said a word."

If there are minor inconveniences you are unhappy with, do your best to deal with it for now. Feel free to file your complaints at home with a spouse or friend! Realize that your new co-workers will not only have no sympathy for you, but may decide you are somehow presumptuous if you whine about inconveniences they have been dealing with for years. Note - on the flip side community complaining can bring you closer to your co-workers. Was there a bad call made by a referee in the football game everyone was watching? Feel free to complain about it alongside everyone else.

8. Be grateful.
Express your gratitude toward everyone who helps you. Thank the people that interviewed and hired you. Thank the people who show you how to use the company's unique equipment or software, how the products and services work, or even things like getting your office supplies and helped you find your way around the building. Thank anyone who is involved in training you or bringing you up to speed.

You want to make people feel good about training you. It makes people take ownership in your success. If they feel you are responding to them and using the information they are giving you, they become vested in your growth. Their mindset will be that if you do well it’s a reflection on them. You have probably heard someone say "I trained him" when talking about a star performer. That is because they take pride knowing they had a part in that person's success. That is exactly the kind of response you want to get from people. Encourage people to invest in you by rewarding them with your gratitude.

8 Ways To Go From "Dumb New Guy" To "What A Guy!"
1. Make friends.
2. Dress for success.
3. Work harder than usual.
4. Seek first to understand and then to be understood.
5. Immerse yourself in the culture.
6. Build bridges.
7. Don't complain.
8. Be grateful.

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