By Liz Ryan
I started a new job a month ago. I’m excited about the opportunity.
I think I made a faux pas last week. I didn’t think it was a big deal but my manager spoke to me about it, so I guess she did think it was a big deal.
I was in a meeting with one of my teammates, “Sarah.”
At one point in our conversation Sarah said “We need to upgrade the usability of our client portal next year.”
I said “Yeah, that’s one of the things I mentioned to our manager when I was interviewing with her. I made a list of usability changes that would help that client portal. She was in favor of all of my recommendations, as far as I could tell.”
I knew that Sarah is responsible for the client portal, but I wasn’t thinking about that when we had the conversation.
Sarah got a little salty. She said “It’s not so easy maintaining that client portal when I have a hundred other things to do. Are you going to show me your list of recommendations, or keep it to yourself?”
Our manager came by my desk the next day and said “I appreciated your input during your interview, Andres, but I don’t want you to suggest to Sarah or anyone else that your recommendations are approved at this stage. We’re still gathering information about our 2018 priorities.”
Now I’m embarrassed. Was I out of line? Do I need to apologize to Sarah?
Thanks Liz –
Yes, you should apologize to Sarah.
Stop by her desk tomorrow and say “Sarah, I feel badly about our conversation last week — the conversation about the client portal you manage. When I mentioned the client portal and usability ideas, I didn’t mean to suggest that you were doing anything wrong. I know you work hard, and you do a great job. I respect you a ton. I couldn’t do your job. I spoke out of turn. I’m sorry.”
You did speak out of turn. Pretty much all of us have done the same thing at some point.
You called Sarah out and embarrassed her.
You told Sarah that you had already had a private conversation with your manager about Sarah’s work, and that your manager had seemed to agree with you that Sarah’s client portal needs help.
Even if that is true, you haven’t earned the right to coach Sarah on how to do her job.
There isn’t enough trust established for you to advise Sarah on what she needs to do.
It is vital to remember that new situations and new people can create a fear reaction in even the most hardy and well-traveled working people.
Most of us feel at least a little insecure in a new job. We try to compensate by being bright and witty, and sharing our great ideas.
We may work too hard at impressing our new teammates with our brains and competence — and end up alienating them.
When you know that a teammate is responsible for something — like your client portal — and they say “We really need to upgrade the usability on that client portal” your best response is “That’s an awesome idea! Let me know how I can help.”
You do not want to walk into a new job playing the part of the expert who has finally arrived to show the idiots how to do their jobs properly.
That is the best way to make enemies — and make yourself completely ineffective in your new role!
Here are ten things never, ever to do when you’re new in a job:
1. Never say “We did that a smarter way at my old company. Should I tell you how?”
2. Never say “I’m going to make a lot of changes around here!” Instead, gather input from as many people as possible and pre-sell your co-workers on your plan by making them part of the triumph you are working toward.
3. Never shut down a co-worker’s description of an existing process, tool or policy by saying “I don’t need to know anything about that — we’re going to get rid of it.”
4. Never make the mistake of befriending and sucking up to higher-up managers while ignoring or looking down on the rest of the team. If your colleagues see you as a snake in the grass, no one will cooperate with you and no one will trust you.
5. Never believe that you know what a company needs before you start the job – or that your assignment is simply to implement the plan you conceived while you were still interviewing. Your job as a newcomer is to listen, listen and listen some more. Your job is to build trust. That is more important to your success than the brilliance of your ideas!
6. Never scoff at or belittle even the most outdated process, concept or mindset in your new organization. Don’t make jokes about the old-fashioned way your new employer does things. If they weren’t doing some things less than optimally, they wouldn’t have hired you!
7. Never attempt to teach your co-workers how modern, up-to-date companies do things. If they want a lesson from you, they will ask for it.
8. Never quiz your co-workers on their proficiency on any subject. That is a very intrusive and impolite tactic that will earn you a reputation as an obnoxious boor.
9. Never get drawn into a Bio Battle of the type “I have seven years of experience in this field.” “Yeah, well I have eight years of experience!” Remember that fear and change go hand in hand. You are likely to feel insecure at work from time to time until you know the ropes. That could take six months to a year, or more. Resist the urge to shove your credentials in anyone’s face.
10. Finally, never talk about plans you and your boss discussed, even if you feel those plans are now set in stone. Discretion is the better part of valor, after all! How we communicate new ideas, especially disruptive and thus scary new ideas, is at least as important as the quality of your idea itself.
Keep your counsel as a new employee and remember that you need good relationships with your teammates to succeed.
Keep in mind that your new employer muddled through somehow without your help in the days and years before you arrived.
You are not a white knight riding in to save the day, as appealing as that archetype can be.
You are a smart and capable person joining an existing team of other smart and capable people. Respect their contributions, even if you are sure you know better ways to do the things your teammates do.
The energy you expend building warm and trusting relationships now will come back a thousandfold to help you down the road!
All the best,
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Forbes Magazine. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Forbes Magazine