Do not criticize or compare. Many people fall into the trap of constantly saying, “In my old job we did it this way," before they fully understand the new company's procedures. It is usually better to settle in quietly and learn everything you can before offering too much advice. You will find that new ideas are more readily accepted after you have been absorbed into the mainstream.
Another cardinal rule in a new position is not to take sides or be absorbed into different "camps." Never criticize anyone or listen to office gossip, since there is often someone only too eager to descend on a new employee and tell him or her all the good and bad. Which usually means "bad," according to their view. Watch and "learn by walking around" until you have a clear picture of the structure and players.
If you are a replacement hire, you may be faced with some negative attitudes, particularly if you have replaced someone who was well liked. Prior to beginning work, you should ask during your orientation interview if there are any special problems you may encounter or anything in particular to be aware of. Remember, a smile and a genuinely sincere attitude will go a long way to win friends.
Be sure to take notes during your training and orientation. If you don't understand something — ask — don't assume. You are not expected to understand everything during the first few days.
Take this time to study your supervisors and their methods of communication. Do they give instruction verbally or write copious memos? Are they formal and detailed, or very sketchy with details?
Learn, or ask, how they like to receive information. Nothing is worse than to burden someone with copious reports when they prefer a mere action outline. On the other hand, a meticulous boss might be very impressed by those same detailed notes. Ask questions often and remember the answers. Learn the parameters of the position early in the game.
After you have been on the job for 30 days, take time to personally evaluate your progress, how you feel about your grasp of the position, where you need help if any and how you feel your knowledge and experience might be used to improve or add to the position. Outline your plan for growth and learning.
It's not a bad idea to schedule an appointment with your supervisor to discuss your progress in order to fully understand how you are settling in and if the company is satisfied with what you are doing. If there are any minor problems, now is the time to correct them before they become big ones.
Beginning any new career step is sometimes a little daunting and very few people enjoy the settling in period. But there are very few problems that cannot be overcome by open communication.
Do not procrastinate if you need help or have problems. Seek out someone who can help you find the solution. Work doubly hard during these first few weeks to learn as much about the company and your position as you possibly can, even though much is new. After a while it will suddenly become familiar.
Remember that you chose this position to learn new ideas and face new challenges, to increase your knowledge and further your career goals. Resolve to make every experience a learning one, even the unpleasant moments, and you cannot help but succeed.
Design as a Career: the Finishing Touch
The building industry offers a number of avenues for women with an artistic flair and an interest in design.
Among the possibilities are:
- Becoming an interior designer with full certification from the American Society of Interior Designer (ASID) and doing custom residential design
- Working for a design firm or company doing model home merchandising
- Managing a design center for a production builder
Those with an interest, but not established credentials, might want to consider a position as an options coordinator where your role is to help buyers choose the upgrades and options to personalize their new home.
Another avenue is bath and kitchen design, where one can pursue a professional designation as a certified designer.
Many other options exist within the industry and are worth pursuing as a career.
Earlier Articles in This Series
- To read, “Marketing Yourself for Success: The Resumé,” Part 1 of this series, published March 15, click here.
- To read, "Marketing Yourself: Be Prepared for the Interview," Part 2 of this series, published March 22, click here.
- To read, "How to Negotiate a Job Offer," Part 3 of this series, published March 29, click here.
Lee Terry is president of the San Mateo, CA-based Lee Terry & Associates, Inc., an executive recruiting firm specializing in the building industry. Terry is also the immediate past chair of the NAHB Women’s Council. Terry can be reched at 650-570-7913 or via e-mail.
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