Probably the most stressful day in anyone’s life is the day you start a new job. It can be a lonely moment because you don’t know anyone, you don’t yet know the job systems, and you are unfamiliar with the customs and culture of the company. Not only that, but you have to be on your best behaviour and present your best performance. So there’s a lot to take in, learn and experience wrapped up in a few hours.

But the stress of a new job can be alleviated if you follow a few sensible steps to ease engagement with new sensations that will come at you quite overwhelmingly on day one. If you take these tips to heart, you will be able to start that first day with a greater confidence and sense of calm than you might expect. Equally important are the things to avoid.

Things to do right

Do all the necessary research you can think of
Before you even attend an interview, you should have done some research on the company so that you are aware of their modus operandi, their values, and mission. Once you are accepted and assigned a starting date, make sure you get a good understanding of their profile via social media, checking out future colleagues on Linkedin, finding out what is best to wear, obtaining a copy of an employee handbook, preparing a list of questions, and getting to know something about your immediate manager.

Do a test run of your commute and what you might need
Do the journey to your new workplace, and back, just to make sure you will have enough time on the day to get there punctually. Also check if you need your own laptop, notebooks, etc, so that you are prepared for any eventuality.

Get everything ready the day before you start
Make sure you have what you need first thing in the morning with regard to your choice of clothing, shoes, hairstyle, etc. And ensure that you get an early night beforehand, and a good sleep. Practice meditation, journaling, breathing and physical exercises, and make a list of everything you need to take with you. You’d be surprised how these simple tasks can reduce stress and anxiety that you may feel about the next day.

Arrive early
This is one of the best things to do. If you have already done your pre-run, you should have allowed enough time for traffic jams, getting lost, and finding parking. Give yourself an extra 45 minutes to get there. Once you have sorted the time factor in the first week, you will know exactly how much time to allow for travel with efficiency and without panic.

Make sure you understand the time schedules
Don’t assume times and schedules and events. Make sure you know the starting time and any unusual happenings, such as a monthly working breakfast or lunch. And don’t be too keen to leave in a hurry at the end of the day.

Make friends as quickly as you can
You may be assigned someone to show you around. But if not, then introduce yourself to people and get chatting where you can with your teammates as soon as possible. Be open to advice, and volunteer information about yourself. Be cheerful and friendly and show that you are keen to take on the tasks assigned to you. An open smile and easy manner are always good icebreakers.

Ask questions
Your prepared list of questions comes in useful here. However, when learning new tasks, make sure you ask the right questions at the right time. It can be irritating if you begin those questions at a later stage when you are supposed to be ready to hit the ground running. Far from being annoying with a number questions in the beginning, people will welcome your interest and honesty, and be happy to help. Always follow-up on anything mentioned that you don’t understand. And ask for a one-on-one meeting with your manager as soon as convenient. This will create a deeper connection and better understanding of the company policies.

Things to avoid

Don’t begin your first day with your rules
Some newbies tend to start a new job with complaints about money, schedules, and their opinion about the procedures. Be careful. Trust is earned. When you prove yourself by showing up and doing your work well, you will be shown more attention with regard to ideas you may have about how your job should be done. You may eventually have to set boundaries about overtime work, or dealing with work issues on the weekend, and other aspects that may be unacceptable to you. But that is for a later time when you have properly settled in your job. And definitely, while you need to state any objections fairly early on, there shouldn’t be arguments on your first day.

Don’t get involved in gossip
Work environments can be quite a tangled web of cliques and gossip. The savvy employee avoids this. You are only responsible for your work, not for other people’s problems. The only time you might need to engage is when someone is creating an unethical, unpleasant or unsafe working environment. This might warrant action from you by reporting certain serious issues to your manager. Remember, it’s his or her problem to sort out, not yours.

Don’t begin battles with your colleagues
Learn to get past contentious issues. Move away from confrontation and choose to work with a sensible, mature approach. There are always frustrations and crossed swords when you are working with a number people diverse in views and backgrounds. Discern between what is important to iron out, and what you can let go and move on.

Don’t neglect your time management skills
If you have a set of duties, then get to know them well and the time they take. Put good time management skills into practice as soon as you can. Don’t let work pile up while wasting time on unimportant things. Make a list of priorities. And don’t let personal issues overwhelm your work time. Schedule, negotiate and innovate how you can best utilise your time, both at work and at home.

Know the dress code and don’t flout the rules
What you wore to the job interview may not be what you will wear on the job. If you haven’t been given a dress code, ask what the appropriate attire is for your workplace. Have a few work outfits ready, so you don’t have to scramble finding appropriate clothes to wear.

Don’t waste work time on social media
Check out your new employer’s social media policy. Some companies don’t care about employees posting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media sites during working hours. Others have policies that prohibit it. Find out what is acceptable before you start posting. Take the time to vet your social pages. Some of your new co-workers or even your new boss might want to be your Facebook friend. Make sure what they can view is fit for public consumption. Check your privacy settings and be careful about who gets to see what.

Getting to know the ropes and building relationships can be hard, especially if you’re the new kid on the block. Be patient and be consistent. Even though you may be bringing a wealth of skills and experience to the organisation, it will still take a time for things to fall into place and for you to move into your position with assurance. Remember that they hired you because they liked you, they had a good idea that you would fit in. So don’t let insecurity play with your imagination. Knowing this key factor will help you to settle and become a positive, valued and contributing member of your company.

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