Notes to the New Person

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Wouldn’t it be nice if someone left you real operating instructions when you start a new job? In that spirit, here is a note that can be left on the chair of 99% of the people starting a new job or assignment.

Hello new person and welcome to my former chair and workspace. Leaders often leave notes for their successor so why not us? We are leaders of this domain! I always liked working in this spot and doing the best I could.  I hope you do too. Since you are new and we probably won’t meet, I thought I would leave you some advice and suggestions to be successful from this very spot. In no particular order…

  • Noise cancelling headphones are your best friend. It doesn’t get that loud here but the headphones will drown out all the annoying habits of your neighbors like the guy who trims his fingernails or the woman who smacks her lips on the red licorice.
  • Treat your time in this spot like someone is paying for you to be here. Someone is. Try to make the place a little better every day. As the new person, you will notice things that everyone else is now used to. Play the “new person” card.
  • Responsiveness is a skill that is highly valued here (and in most places). Respond to any email or text even if all you say is “Got it, stay tuned.” Be thoughtful in subsequent responses.
  • Don’t be late for meetings. Don’t call meetings unless you have something to talk about. Have an agenda for your meetings. Not every meeting needs a Power Point presentation or spreadsheets. Sometimes you can just talk.
  • People only sort of care what you used to do or where you went to school. Everyone is more interested in what you are going to do now and in the future. Don’t be the person who makes it routine to talk about, “When I was at ________.” No one is that interested.
  • Use lunch to get to know your coworkers and be aggressive about it. If no one asks you to lunch, ask others. Eating reheated leftover fish burritos in your workspace will not help with your integration.
  • Implementation is a skill that gets noticed here. Try to be known as the “new person” who gets things done. 
  • The chair you are inheriting is impossible to adjust. If it doesn’t fit I suggest you call someone from engineering or swap chairs with someone to get the chair more your size. 
  • Make friends. Nice people are all around you although it may not seem like it on your first day when you can’t find the lavatory and your temporary ID doesn’t work. The relationships you build at work can last a lifetime and build the network that will always support you.
  • Volunteer for projects. You will gain more experience and get you out of this chair that refuses to be adjusted.

OK, that’s enough advice for your first day. You might want to keep this list handy. Don’t be compared to what I did in the job, do your own thing. Good luck, I know you will do great things.

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