5 Awkward Situations When You’re New at Work

awkwardAuthor: Abby Wolfe
Source: The Daily Muse

On day one of my first “real” job, I had no idea what to do with myself. Around 3:30 PM, I turned to a co-worker and asked, “So, uh, what time do you usually leave each day?”

When offered the job three weeks earlier, the hiring manager told me my hours were “up to me and my supervisor.” Well, that conversation never happened, so I had no idea when I could go home.

Starting a new gig can be really overwhelming—whether it’s your first one or your 10th. There are loads of unspoken rules you haven’t learned yet, and you have to get to know a whole new group of people.

But, as time goes on, there are certain situations that’ll become second nature. (Or at least feel a little bit easier.)

1. Understanding the Company Culture

Pretty soon after starting that first job, I figured out my hours—by watching other people. My manager and the rest of the team arrived between 8 and 8:30 AM, so I started to, as well. When they wrapped up a little after 4, so did I.

Others on my team would go to the doctor or pick up their kids midday and finish work up later, at home. So, I didn’t stress if the only time my dentist could see me was 11 AM. Because as long as I completed work and showed up at necessary meetings, nobody cared.

Observing my co-workers allowed me to see what was and wasn’t acceptable at my new company. Not just for my hours, but also for the dress code (my second organization was athletic-wear friendly, so yoga pants became a staple of my professional wardrobe), email turnaround time expectations, meeting etiquette, and more.

You won’t know all the ins and outs by day one, so it’s important to pay attention.

2. Saying “No”

“Yes!” “Sure!” “Absolutely.” “Would love to.” “Happy to help.”

This is my mantra in the early days of a new gig because I’m so eager to prove myself as a hard worker and a team player.

But saying yes all the time isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can cause tasks to fall through the cracks, decrease the quality of your work, and end up leaving you majorly burnt out.

And I won’t lie. Saying no can be hard. But once you learn more about your roles and responsibilities and have a good rapport with your colleagues, it gets a heck of a lot easier. You’ll be able to discern what you have the capacity for and if you’re the right person to do it, and you’ll trust that the person you’re saying no to will respect your response.

(If you’re still feeling stuck on how to do that, here are inoffensive ways to say no.)

3. Giving Your Boss Feedback

Almost every boss I’ve had has told me that, not only is he open to honest feedback, but he wants it. And each time, I nod enthusiastically and say, “Yes, yes, of course!” Meanwhile, my conscience is screaming, “Ha! Nope. No. Don’t do that—ever!” And the idea of doing it makes me squirm.

But your boss isn’t a perfect manager and a few of his processes (or habits) could likely use some work. And he can’t adequately support you and your team if he doesn’t know how he needs to improve.

And as your relationship with him strengthens, providing some constructive criticism here and there won’t be so tedious, especially when you realize how much it can help him, you, and your team. The first time will be tough, but you’ve just gotta rip the Band-aid off.

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