The Alligator – Lying Low And Observing

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 5, 2008 in Executive Coaching |

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The most important thing you can do at the beginning of a new job is observe. Think of the Alligator as it floats on the lake with just its eyes and ears above the water. Alligators and their cousins, crocodiles, have been around for millions of years while other groups like the dinosaurs became extinct. What is the secret to their success? Perhaps, it’s because they know when to lay low and watch, and when to spring into action.

Lay low in the beginning. Recently, when a panel of HR professionals were polled, here were some of the areas that they suggested a new employee should pay attention to….

  • -Watch your coworkers. See how they do things. This will help you to assimilate into the corporate culture seamlessly.
  • -Be observant about what people wear to work and dress accordingly.
  • -See when people come and go. Try to plan your work schedule that way. You don’t want to be the only person with a different schedule. It will draw unnecessary attention to you.
  • -Watch who seems to be on top of things before deciding whom to associate with most closely at work. Usually the person who comes up to ask you about your life story the first day is the office gossip and should be avoided at all cost.
  • -See how others interact with your boss. Try to emulate the person or people who seem to communicate best with him or her.
  • -Watch to see how other people conduct personal business at work so that you can see how personal breaks, doctor’s appointments, e-mails and personal phone calls are handled.

Although many companies are the same, cultures vary dramatically from company to company. Maybe at your old job, friendly teasing was acceptable and even encouraged but that may not be the case at your new company. Developing a good understanding of your new company’s culture is essential. It will help you to make a solid contribution and rise within the organization while avoiding some of the common pitfalls associated with a new job at a new company.

Jake Hanson
Senior Associate, CMCS

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