2 April 2008

The New Kid on the Block: Establishing Good Working Relationships

I have just recently changed my working situation. I have a new boss and a new way of doing things. Here are a few tips when starting a new job:

  • Pay attention to the questions you were asked at the interview. Those questions will give you a good idea about what is important to your new boss. In one interview, the person interviewing me said he needed his filing done on a daily basis as many people were using the files and it was important to have all the information up to date. This was mentioned a few times in the interview so I knew it was important and when I got the job I made sure to do my filing every day. On another interview I was asked how I handled client relations. I have always been a good people person and was able to answer the question positively. When I was on the job I made sure to take extra time establishing relationships with the clients as I knew it was important to my boss. In each instance, once my bosses saw I was acting on the things that mattered to them it gave them confidence in me as the new person.
  • Once you are settled in your new desk, re-introduce yourself to your new boss. Even if the person knows you and this is an internal move, it is good to establish your working relationship right from the start. If you have a chance to sit down with him or her to discuss how they would like to have things done that is great. Listen and write down ideas on how you will accomplish what is required.
  • Introduce yourself to your new co-workers who will be working close by. Even though you may have been introduced to everyone as they gave you a tour of the office, take the time to greet them and re-introduce yourself and ask their name as you get the opportunity. We meet so many people on the first day it is hard to keep track of everyone. The people that you especially want to know are those who will be working in your area. They will be your greatest resource.
  • Acquaint yourself with your boss's files. A filing cabinet can give you a lot of information about your new boss's responsibilities and how they like things done. Don't be too eager to change things until you do some exploring and get the lay of the land. Files may need to be cleaned up and put in proper order and new file folders made. Make the filing system easy for you, not complicated.
  • Make sure the file list is up to date. All the files in the cabinet should be on your list. As the new person the file names will be new to you. It is a great tool to have your file list up to date in a Word document so you can electronically search for the file names when your boss comes around looking for something. On one job I was in I was fortunate to have the first day to myself to go over the filing system. I ended up staying late to put it in good order as it needed a lot of work. The next day my boss was frantically getting ready to go to a meeting and came to me to get a document he couldn't find. Fortunately the night before I had found that document in the Z's, but it should have been in the B's. I would have never found it for him if I hadn't taken the time the day before. I was easily able to retrieve it for him. He was surprised and impressed that I had found it so readily. It started our relationship off to a good start as he knew I had taken the time to know his files.
  • Get to know your boss's contacts so you will recognize names when they call. Identify yourself by name and who you work for. When people call and are unfamiliar with your voice they will know right away by your greeting that they have the right number and you are available to assist them. If you don't know the answer, take down their name and number and tell them you will get back to them as soon as possible and then ask around to get the answer and return the call.
  • On the first e-mail contact with someone, introduce yourself and tell them who you are working for and what you are doing for them. For example, Hello, My name is Patricia Robb. I am [Insert Name]'s new assistant. I will be handling the scheduling of this meeting... Make sure your signature line is complete with name, who you work for, company name, phone and fax. If they are receiving an e-mail from you they will have your e-mail address, but some companies have a standard signature line they like you to use and include the e-mail address. You should always go by your company policy. If you don't know what it is, the HR Manager will be able to assist you.
  • Look in your document management system and look at letters, memos and e-mails that have gone out to get an idea of what kind of work you will be doing and the style for saving documents.
  • If you see your boss searching through the file cabinet, offer your assistance. Write down what he or she is looking for and ask when they will need it by and tell them you will look after it. Your new co-workers should be able to assist you. They are hoping to get you up to speed quickly to relieve their workload and are usually more than happy to help out.
  • Give your boss confidence when they ask you to do something by repeating back to them what they have asked you to do. They will then see that you understood the request. Be sure to write things down when asked to do something. It gives people reassurance that it will get done when they see it on your list of things to do.
  • Some good people to know in an organization are the mailroom staff, the accounting staff and the IT staff. Take the time to introduce yourself to these important service people. You will be calling on them often. It is a good idea to have them on your side.


Barbara Swafford said...

Hi Patricia,

This is great advice for "the new kid".

As much as it's difficult for the new person coming on board, it's also difficult for the existing employees and boss as well. Being as helpful as possible can make all the difference in the world.

Patricia Robb said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment Barbara. I read an article a lawyer wrote about how to handle your first assistant. I had never thought of it from the boss's point of view, but it would have its own challenges too, especially if you have never had an assistant before.