Starting a new job is exciting. But it can also be a bit scary or daunting for some. Regardless where you are on that spectrum though, a new job is an opportunity to start fresh and set yourself up for a rewarding career.
I speak a lot on this blog about the importance of being diligent at work and glorifying God with our talents. A new job allows you to set those habits early and establish the right patterns for success. I want to highlight three tips you can use to help make your new job your best opportunity yet. Every employee should apply these simple tips when starting a new job, but unfortunately, very few people actually take them seriously.
#1. Find out what the expectations are
Job burnout is a serious problem in this country. According to a recent Gallup study, 44% of workers report feeling burnout sometimes at work. What is one of the main causes of job burnout? You guessed it: lack of role clarity. As a result of not having clarity about their roles, many employees operate with the mindset that being busy and always connected is a good thing, despite research showing the opposite.
I do not want to see you fall prey to the rat-race culture. Nothing good comes out of that. So, within the first week on the job, make sure to sit down with your manager and find out what the expectations are. How would they like you to communicate with them? What is their management style? Do they expect you to answer emails late in the evening or on the weekend? For example, I once worked for a boss who expected that his team acknowledges emails within 24 hours. We did not need to have an answer to his email, but at least acknowledge that we received it and were working on it. Not a big deal!
As you discuss expectations with your manager, listen to what is important to him or her. Often what managers want is to know that you are doing your job and will inform them about what they need to know. Your new manager might expect more communication from you in the beginning, and that is fine. As you build trust over time, most managers back off and let you do your job. Either way, learn the expectations and set the right foundation for the relationship moving forward.
#2. Get to know your colleagues
As I have said in previous articles on this blog, your job at work is to add value to those around you, whether that person is your boss or your colleague. You are there to serve others. The Bible says, “Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant” (1). Elsewhere it says, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (2). There is no better place to serve others and glorify God than where you spend half of your waking time during the day.
To that effect, get to know your colleagues at work, and establish the foundation of your working relationship with them. You are not there to work in a silo, but are there to support the broader vision of the company. Let them know that you are there to help in any way they need.
One thing that has been very helpful for me when starting a new job is inviting one or two of my colleagues for lunch. There is nothing like sharing a meal to help bring the guards down and get to know someone else. You might be surprised by some of the opportunities God might grant you to share the gospel with a colleague during that time. I have had many fruitful conversations with colleagues over lunch, for which I am grateful.
#3. Establish healthy work habits early on
Just as you want to understand your manager’s expectations as early as possible, you also must establish the right expectations for your manager and your colleagues. You do this by establishing healthy work habits in the very beginning.
Your first couple of weeks on the job, there will be a great temptation to “please” your boss by coming to the office super early and staying there super late. Unless you want this to be your lifestyle, I urge you to avoid this habit. Remember the statistics on employee burnout. Besides, your ultimate boss at work is God, and he never burdens us with trials that we are unable to bear (1 Cor 10:13).
Come to work at a reasonable time and leave at a reasonable time. And while you are at work, be diligent and put in an honest day’s labor. Do not just be a busy bee – work well! Unless your boss is severely incompetent and insecure in their leadership, he or she is not looking for a busy bee. Your boss is looking for someone who can deliver great results, and you do not need to kill yourself in the office to do that. The most productive people know how to get more done in less time. It is all about focusing intently on the task at hand and avoiding time-wasting activities like YouTube, Facebook, and other social media black holes. If you want to understand how to achieve this, check out this article that I wrote on this very issue.
As you embark on your new journey, keep in mind why you are there. Your job does not define you, nor your title, nor the company for which you work. All of these things are vanities that will soon fade away. The only thing that defines you is your relationship with Christ. If you have that properly defined, then everything else that you do is an opportunity to bless others. So, go be a blessing!
– Led by the Book
(1) Matthew 20:26; (2) 1 Corinthians 10:31