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Three Tips for Starting a New Job on the Right Foot

By Jacquelyn Adams

There is a correlative influx of new employees as we continue to experience the mass exodus of workers from their current jobs. And if you are one of these brave souls, stepping out into that new terrain, the pressure to lead with your best foot forward can be a bit overwhelming sometimes. So this week, let’s take a look at a few dos and don’ts that can help make your transition to a new job a success.

1. Lose the savior complex

When entering a new workplace, we come in with fresh eyes and can sometimes be dazzled by all of the things we can “fix.” Perhaps we have some best practices from an old job that we think should immediately be implemented throughout the business. Or maybe we spotted a gaping hole in their sales procedure that we would be able to fill perfectly. Or we could give that outdated blog the perfect facelift. However, before we send out that business-saving email, let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves that our fresh eyes are also missing some serious data points. What we see as a shortcoming might be an intentional decision that yields the desired results. Maybe funds are lacking to support it properly. It could even be a sensitive or divisive topic in the business. The point is, as the new person, we have no idea what needs to be fixed and what doesn’t, and when we dive in too hard, too fast, we risk coming off as ignorant or arrogant. It’s better to take time and get information instead of tackling unknown variables right off the bat.

2. Approach with humility

One of the most crucial assignments when starting a job is approaching with the mindset that we are the student. We are learning the business, the history, the dynamics, and details that make this company unique. It is vital to approach a new role with humility, and be ready to soak in the information that is being shared, and ask questions. Now, suppose we have been brought into a position that does require us to make some changes or even revamp a whole program. In that case, even that has to be done with humility because of our limited understanding of the company’s inner workings. Basically, as any changes are being considered in the first six or so months, it can be helpful to use phrases like, “From my outside perspective, it seems like (insert observation or solution). Does that match up with your understanding/experience?” While we can take pride in our credentials landing us the job, we will still have a period of having the least experience when it comes to this business. It’s acceptable, natural, and we can make the best of it by humbly accepting the wisdom of those around us.

3. Invest in your coworkers

Lastly, if we want to tap into the people’s insights, they first need to be an accessible resource. Healthy working relationships make work more effective. So, when it comes to relationships with coworkers, even if we want to set aside the emotional component and the pleasure that can come from relationships, there is still this pragmatic side to coworker interactions. And those relationships are started with each new meeting. A critical component of this process is leaving behind baggage from previous workplaces. If we had trouble with the old tech/sales/whatever team, it does not mean that we will have difficulty with that team in our new workplace. However, if we had a reputation of being hard to work with, now is also an excellent time to consider those complaints and make some changes (I have found that if the same complaints are coming from multiple sources, there is probably some truth to them). In the end, each day, we are investing in our coworkers and actively creating either a positive or hostile working environment.

So, whether it’s the first day, first week or first month, I hope some of these tips prove helpful in this time of transition. “Don’t stress and be the best version of yourself” might come off a bit trite, but I think of it as a very steadying way to approach those first-day jitters. Most likely, we will say at least one stupid thing. It’s unlikely that everyone at work will be our new friend. However, it comes back to putting that best foot forward and realizing we put ourselves out there and tried.


Jacquelyn Adams is a storyteller and an award-winning CEO. She lives in a world of constant exploration, whether it’s summiting Mount Kilimanjaro, vlogging about the future of work… or discovering how she’d do in a chocolate eating contest (answer: last place). Find more of her Lessons on Leadership articles here or connect with her on LinkedIn here.

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Jacquelyn Adams

Jacquelyn Adams, founder and CEO of Ristole, uses her column to delve into the wild world of leadership. Whether the article is about her days as a Peace Corp volunteer, exploring corporate training, or even grabbing lunch at Chipotle — she will come out with a story and her “top tips.” As she passionately believes in leveraging her platform to share others’ voices, her column welcomes guest bloggers to create a fuller and more diverse pool of experiences for her readership. So, welcome to “Lessons on Leadership” where you never know what the next article will hold: online networking advice, guidelines for creating a joyful workplace, or even puppies. Just keep reading to discover what’s next!

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