Most people want to do a good job at work and yet we see things go poorly despite everyone’s best intentions. (“The road to hell was paved with good intentions.”)
Always remember that you are your own best advocate. Don’t assume someone else is thinking about how to help you perform better. While a companies want you to succeed in your job, all companies have people who get busy with their own responsibilities.
With that in mind, following are three of the most common mistakes we see new employees make.
1. Not Asking Questions
When you start a new job, you might be uncomfortable with asking questions even when you have relevant work experience. Rather than feel like a bother, sometimes people try to muddle through, despite not exactly understanding what they are doing. As a result, they might take too long, do the wrong thing, or make significant mistakes.
Ask questions and take notes! Make sure you know the location of training materials if they exist. Confirm that you are heading in the right direction early.
2. Misunderstanding Deadlines and Deliverables
This leads right into mistake #2: assuming you know what is expected from you and by when. In fact, this is one of the biggest mistakes that managers and supervisors make as well: not clearly communicating by when they expect results.
Whenever someone gives you work to do, you should either state, “I will have X finished by the end of the week” or ask, “By when do you need Y completed?”
The companion activity here is then alerting your supervisor ahead of time if you are likely to miss a deadline. “I know you requested Z by Friday morning, but I still have to complete these three steps. How would you like me to proceed?”
3. Avoiding Feedback
Personally, I find it difficult to receive feedback – even when it’s positive. I understand why people avoid asking for it! At the same time, I’ve seen many people think they were doing well at their job, right up to the day they were fired.
Especially when you are new, asking for regular feedback is very helpful to ensure you are on track. “I really like it here and want to make sure I’m on track with your expectations. I’m curious about what I’m doing well and where I can improve.”
How often should you ask this question? I’d recommend after the first week, second week, first month, and then at least quarterly thereafter.
Avoid these three mistakes and you greatly increase your chances to be successful in your job for a long time.