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Never Do This After Starting a New Job

January 7, 2016, 9:25 PM UTC
Photograph by Bud Glick

The Fortune 500 Insider Network is an online community where top executives from the Fortune 500 share ideas and offer leadership advice with Fortune’s global audience. Alan Colberg, president and CEO of Assurant, has answered the question: What are some common mistakes you see new hires make?

Everyone remembers when they were the new hire.

When I joined Assurant (AIZ) as an executive vice president four years ago, I had worked with company employees across the business for more than 20 years as an outside advisor. Even with that level of familiarity and a deep appreciation of Assurant’s culture, I still had to make the mental transition of joining another organization and adapting to its norms.

Each company has its own unique culture, and adjusting to a new environment is difficult at any level. Some new hires are afraid to seek help and fail to create a support network they can rely upon. Others communicate poorly or are too impatient to realize when they’ve achieved success. Dealing with these issues can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Here are some steps new hires can take to avoid some of these common, self-inflicted career wounds:

Be observant and adjust to cultural norms
As a new hire, it’s essential to understand the company’s values, and to recognize how those values are supported and reinforced by employee behaviors. This shouldn’t require you to conform your personality to fit in. But it does require you to be mindful of your new environment. For example, your previous company colleagues might have been lax about meeting start times. Your new coworkers, however, may be sticklers about punctuality. It’s important to not make assumptions about such matters when you’re new to the organization.

See also: Here’s How to Totally Own Your New Job

Seek help and ask questions
Many new employees are reluctant to seek out help for fear of looking like they’re unqualified for their positions. But the bigger risk is not asking questions: You may not have enough information to do your job well. To increase your institutional knowledge and chance at workplace success, develop a support network of peers and find mentors who can answer your questions. Ask them to help you understand workplace cultural dos and don’ts, navigate the corporate hierarchy, and learn about business operations.


Protect and build your reputation
Your professional reputation is precious. It takes time to build, but can quickly erode. When you make a commitment, make a note of it, and make sure you deliver on time. If circumstances will make it likely that you will miss a deadline, provide an early update to everyone affected by the delay. Double-check your work, as careless errors or poor grammar will cause others to question your commitment and work quality.

Deliver results in your current role
Credentials and ambition alone don’t guarantee success in a new job. Still, some new hires come on board and quickly decide that they’ve already earned a bigger role at the table and increased decision-making authority. If your supervisor’s assessment doesn’t support this viewpoint, it’s time for you to re-examine your priorities and refocus on your current position. Apply yourself and do your job well, accomplish goals, and establish yourself as an important part of the team, and you will go further in your career faster. Good things will come to those who deliver results on any project they work on.

Above all, remember that just because you’ve landed the job doesn’t mean you’ll keep it without hard work.