How to make a good first impression when starting a new job

It’s stressful to get used to a new environment and new people, but there are things you can do to ease this transition.

Starting a new job is stressful for anyone. Not only do you have to get used to new people, a new environment, and (maybe) a new commute. You also have to figure what the unwritten rules and etiquettes are, and where to direct your specific questions. Then there’s the challenge of actually doing good work and impressing your hiring manager. That in itself can feel like an overwhelming challenge.

Ideally, your employer has a thorough onboarding process that makes the process less daunting. Unfortunately, many employers don’t pay attention to this step. There are, however, things you can do to make it easier for yourself. Here are three helpful tips to make a good first impression in your first week:

1. Learn everyone’s names. This may sound basic, but meeting a bunch of new people can be overwhelming. Still, remembering everyone’s names (and their positions) is the fastest way to make a good impression. Try repeating the name right away to confirm you heard it correctly and to start reinforcing the memory. Then quiz yourself on the name while making small talk (and if you’ve forgotten the person’s name, ask for it again at the end of your initial conversation). When you’re back at your desk, write it down, along with their position.

2. Develop your own 90-day plan. During your interview and research process, you’ve likely come up with an idea about how you can help solve the challenges the company is facing. Within your first week, create your own 90-day plan with personal performance goals that will help you define your role. The idea is to have something you can work toward while you’re getting acclimated, so you don’t feel so lost.

3. Listen for the subtext and find an ally. You won’t find most of the important information about your office culture in the company handbook, so it’s crucial that you listen carefully. If many people are complaining about a particular area that falls within your responsibilities, that’s a clue that you can take action. If they mention change, but do so more quietly, that’s a clue that there are barriers or politics involved and you should tread carefully.

It’s essential to find an ally who can give you hints about office politics. This person can help shorten your learning curve and also prevent missteps. Look for the friendly people who offer their help when you’re making a round of introductions.

You can find this episode of Secrets of the Most Productive People on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, RadioPublic, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Anisa is the assistant editor for Fast Company’s Work Life section. She covers everything from productivity to the future of work More

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