10 Tips for Being the New Employee at a Startup

Best Practices, Employees

Being the new guy (or gal) is a frightening thing, no one is ever completely ready for it, if someone tells you they are then they are filthy little liars. There are new systems to learn, new clients to get acquainted with, and scariest of all new PEOPLE to meet. That’s a lot of stuff that gets thrown at you really fast, believe me, I’ve been a new guy more than a couple times in my life. When you are at a startup that is just trying to get, well started up, it can be even more to take in. No one has time to hold your hand, you need to get moving and prove your worth fast. So here’s how:

 

Personalize your workspace

So you like your stuff, pictures of kids, dog, wife, or whatever and being around those things can greatly relieve the stress that comes with being the newest hire at a startup. It also is a subliminal way to display your interests to co-workers. If you have a hilarious cat poster on your wall and you find out Bill from accounting ALSO has an affinity for awful decorations you will like working in the office that much more and Bill from accounting won’t “lose your check” in the mail. Modern day twist? Using company intranets and communication platforms to show off you mad GIF and meme skills, just make sure you keep it to one per day, lest the boss think you’re doing more GIF-ing than working.

 

Get to know your co-workers!

Meeting people is always a scary thing, I mean what if they don’t like you? What if they like you too much? So naturally you think it will just be easy to keep your head down and hope they don’t think about you at all other than how good your work is. Well, time and time again teamwork has been shown to be better for getting work done. 82% of employees need teamwork to get their work done on time. So get used to the people around you because they need you and you need them!

 

You have more power than you think

When you are the new employee it’s easy to think that you could be fired at a moment’s notice, and that is usually true, but truth be told companies really don’t WANT to fire you, nor do they want you to quit. It’s expensive and time consuming. Billions of dollars are lost each year on employee turnover. For a startup that is even more true, as they tend to not have a lot of extra cash to throw around. This fact should give you enough space to take a deep breath or two and not worry quite so much at getting immediately fired if you forget to put a cover sheet on your report.  You have the free space to make a mistake every now and again. Don’t take it too far though, no company is going to keep you around if you cost them more money than replacing you will.

 

Don’t let work be your whole world

Whenever you start a new job it’s easy to lose the focus on anything else in your life. You compulsively check emails waiting to see what the boss has to say at 9 PM, you stay after everyone else leaves either to prove yourself or because you don’t know 100% what you are doing. You wake up at night in a cold sweat thinking about if your report was formatted right!  Work becomes all that is on your mind. Well, it’s time to step back and realize that it’s healthier and more productive to have a world outside of work.

 

Don’t stay quiet

Meetings are a part of any job. When you are the new guy it’s easy to clam up when talk gets heavy and the veterans and management discuss strategies and the cost of things. Hard facts and harder numbers are intimidating, after all what do YOU know? You just got there right? Wrong. You got hired for a reason. You are a brilliant person with lots to contribute, at least that’s what your mom said, and people that participate more in meetings tend to stand out more and make more money. Don’t let the high pressure of the meetings hold you back!

 

Don’t call the job hunt off just yet

So even though you have a job already it’s important to keep your search going. Honestly, this is advice that should be the case all throughout your career, constantly searching for something better. When it comes to startups it is more important than ever. 9 out of every 10 startups fail. So while it might seem like a sleazy thing to do, searching for a backup job is simply the safest thing you can do for your future when you first start at a startup. If you do find a job that you love even more still make sure to be courteous and give your boss 2 weeks notice.

 

Don’t take on too much

A lot of new employees make this mistake, especially in a very small company where there is a lot more work to go around, but don’t fall prey to it! I know you think you are an unstoppable work juggernaut and that you’ll never get burnt out but it happens to 63% of employees and you are no different. You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything the boss or your co-workers assign you. If you know you are taking on too much then tell your supervisor. If you are unsure whether or not you might be getting burnt out then consult a list of symptoms.

 

Make sure you are doing what you love

I know that line is the king of clichés when it comes to jobs but it is true. If you actually like what you are doing you are more likely to keep the job longer, not only that but you will be better at it. In fact, people that are happier at their job are 12% more productive than people that are unhappy. So while looking for a job just for the paycheck is a valid way to go about it, you will do better if you actually want your job.

 

Watch what you post on social media

Whether it’s on or off the clock content people love to share on their social media. When you are having fun or have something to say you want your friends or posse to hear about it, it’s natural. However losing or failing to get a job because of social media can affect 1 out of every 10 people. While I said earlier it’s important to keep work from being your entire world, at the very least keep it in mind when it comes to social media.

 

Don’t listen to guides or tips on being an employee

There is no cookie cutter answer to a majority of the issues you are going to face as a new employee. Most situations are unique and require some degree of independent thought. In fact thinking for yourself at work has been shown to increase happiness on the job, which we know raises productivity. So strike out on your own and don’t pay attention to any guides or tips. Er except this article, definitely pay attention to this article.

 

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