Top tips to help you succeed in your job this year


So you?ve made it through the tough interview process and finally got the job of your dreams, but settling in can prove to be the most stressful and tricky part of the entire experience of moving up the corporate ladder.

Debbie Goodman of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, who places many of the top people throughout South Africa?s corporate world says, "The more senior the role, the more difficult the settling-in process. The old saying "it?s lonely at the top? has never rung more true, as you are expected to hit the ground running.

"First impressions are lasting impressions. As a newcomer, it takes time to lose one's 'outsider' status and become a part of the inner core. But by using certain techniques, the transition can take place quicker.'

Here are few tips she has to offer new executive arrivals:

  • Get acquainted: Mix with your co-workers. Remember them by name. Be polite and friendly with everyone around you, from the tea lady to the boss.
  • Watch out for the snake in the grass: Remember that not everyone may be happy to have you on board, and there might be some deliberate attempts to lead you astray, or provide you with misleading information. Be on the alert.
  • Mind your words: Keep away from office gossip and make your own judgments based on your interaction with colleagues. Don?t fall into the trap of making statements about your team that are not founded on actual experience - you may find these comments find their way back to the wrong people.
  • Don?t try to change things immediately: People are always afraid of change, and will be wary of a newcomer who wants to make his/ her mark by implementing new things from the word go. Bide your time, and be strategic about the changes you intend to make.
  • Talk less, listen more: Nobody likes a "know-it-all". Being a good listener helps you learn and absorb faster. Moreover, real listening will let you know where you might need to adapt, whether in your work style or even in yourself.
  • Ask questions: It's okay to ask for help. You're not expected to know everything your first day on the job.
  • Get organized: Develop a system to keep track of all assignments, meetings, projects etc. Keep yourself on top of your work at all times. Use a diary or a checklist to remind yourself of all that needs to be done. Set weekly goals for yourself and make sure you achieve them.
  • Stick your hand up: Be proactive and ask for something to do. In the early days, you will be given smaller tasks to carry out. Once these are done and you feel capable of taking on larger workloads, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. It doesn't hurt to volunteer for tasks you don't know how to execute. Your colleagues will appreciate your effort and willingness to learn.
  • Time yourself: Come in early and leave a little after normal office hours, especially during the first few weeks of work. It shows your flexibility and dedication to the job.
  • Say 'thank you': Take time to tell your co-workers who helped you out during your first days how much you appreciate their help.
  • Dress the part: People will take you seriously if you look professional. The way you groom yourself can be seen as a reflection of your work style. Being well-groomed can be seen as being capable and efficient, while a shabby appearance can mean just the opposite.

    If you follow these practical guidelines during your first few weeks, you?re sure to make a good impression on your new colleagues, Goodman stresses. "With pressures on top executives even more apparent these days, it helps to remember the basics, even if you?ve made it to the top of the corporate ladder,' she concludes.

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