People are watching

When you start work people will be watching you.

Sometimes new starters are assigned to a mentor, to show you the ropes. Induction processes are covered in Part 4. This will tell you about the basics of the company, things like the work hours, where your desk is, where the toilets are, where you go for lunch, and safety policies and procedures.

It’s important as you go through this induction that you impress your mentor. Because as well as showing you what to do, the mentor will also be assessing you. You can be sure that co-workers will ask the mentor “What’s the new person like?”


Reputations and working in a team

Reputations take a while to build up and an instant to lose.

For example, I have known a few people who were seen as the best team players at work for years, but then they bully a co-worker and then they are forever seen as a bully.

Of course not all co-workers will want to see you succeeding. They may see you as a good worker but others as “brownosing” or “sucking up to the boss”.

It can be hard for a new starter to hear these criticisms from co-workers. The temptation is always there to conform to the normal behaviour of the group.

So you have a decision to make:

• Are you going to be seen as the “average” worker in order to seek favour with your co- workers?
• Or are you going to focus on your job and do it to the best of your ability?

It’s not an easy decision. A lot of people decide to lower their standards and settle in as part of the group.

Of course the boss then sees this. You become an “average” worker in the boss’s eyes. This has the consequence of you losing opportunities. Opportunities that you may not even be aware of!

It takes a lot of courage to build up a good reputation as a worker when you are a new starter.

You must seek out opportunities to show that you value this job, and are prepared to do that little bit extra to improve customer service, or increase the value of the service in some way.

The difference between “sucking up to the boss” and “doing a good job” is the difference between playing the person and doing the task.

Sucking up to the boss is self-promotion. It’s about telling the boss how you are doing work better than anyone else. You are putting down other co-workers by suggesting to the boss that they are not doing a good a job as you. This may fool some bosses. (They aren’t perfect.) But it usually ends in tears, because at the end of the day the boss is interested in results, and good results only come from workers who work together. No one likes to work with a “brownnose” who runs off to say “look at me, look at me” at every opportunity.

A new starter builds up a good reputation, not by looking for praise, or self-promotion, but by letting the work speak for itself.

As a new starter you may find that others are happy to take credit for some of your work (it happens). Don’t let this disturb you. You are just starting your working life and bosses will notice that when you are part of the team good work follows. It takes a while to build a reputation. Take it slowly but deliberately, and never lower your standards to gain favour with others.

A word of warning to new starters. As you grow in your career, do not expect your work to “speak for itself ”. Being shy about your achievements will not help you build your reputation.

As you gain experience, make sure in a quiet but firm way your boss knows the good work you are doing. A friendly
reminder at an appropriate time is usually enough.

His answer to that question will have an effect on how people you have never met will relate to you. If the mentor’s answer is negative, people may be wary of you, and you will find that people are perhaps not as helpful as they could be.

If the mentor gave you a glowing reference and said you would be a great help to the team, you will find that people adopt a positive attitude to you.

Your co-workers will have been assessing you as you settle into the company.
They will do this consciously through job appraisals etc., and through day-to-day contact.

• Do they see you as a person who is a valuable member of the team? • Are you a helpful person?
• Or are you someone who only occasionally lends a hand?
• Will you go the extra mile to help?

• Do you appear sullen and moody?

All of these assessments go towards building your reputation in the company. This has a huge effect in your work and career. If you can build up a positive reputation within the organisation you contribution will be recognised, and other opportunities will emerge.

Further, you will increase your employability prospects, so that when times get tough your reputation may save your job. Even if a good reputation does not save your job when a downturn happens, it will help you find another job quickly. When it becomes time to move on, you are in a stronger position to

negotiate with your new employer if you have a good reputation behind you.