Success: New Kid on the Team Rules

I grew up on a farm in Idaho where we had the ultimate retention policy: I couldn’t fire my brothers and sisters.

As a kid, one of my chores was to tromp out in the pasture at 5:30 every afternoon and herd the cows down to the barn for milking. One thing stands out in my mind…the newest cow in the herd ate around the fringes. It was an unwritten rule. It had the new kid on the team syndrome. I had to go out of my way to get the new cow on the right path to the barn.

In a similar way, there are unwritten career success rules for you as you move around departments, teams or make a career move from one organization to another. It is easy to become the “new kid on the team.” Those “new kid” rules are:

1. Be personable and approachable. As you are introduced to other co-workers, think thoughts such as “I like you” or “I’m looking forward to working with you.” These positive thoughts will be projected through your smile, your eyes and in a mystical way, through your soul. The other person will feel the positive vibes coming from you and will see you as approachable.

2. Be an active learner. Yes, I said “learner” not listener, even though listening is important. By being an active learner, I mean don’t be afraid to ask questions, fearing that you’ll look stupid. You are not expected to know what is going on so use this short time period to your advantage to knowledge acquisition. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a great way to get to know others.

3. Do the dirty work. Volunteer for the odd jobs detested by others. You will learn more about the functioning of the business unit and gain respect from your coworkers. Document what you do because it won’t be long before you can pass the list on to the next new hire. Pass the list on in a mentoring moment and the new hire will suspect nothing.

4. Respect time. Be on time to meetings and limit lengthy comments and explanations. When in a personal conversation, read the body language tips that tell you the other person is done. You know, the looking at the watch, checking their email on their PDA, wandering eyes, etc.

5. Have the Can-Do attitude. The strongest poison on a team is a person with the attitude of “I can’t do that.” It is especially poisonous when paired with “I won’t do that.” You will stand out when you volunteer for the tough task and pull it off with brilliance.

Practice these simple rules and you’ll be the most popular new kid on the team. And, by the way, if you see a new kid on the team haning out, go out of your way to make the new kid welcome.

For a poster copy of Etiquette Rules for Career Success, click here.

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