One of the worst things you can do when you start your new job is to make your supervisor look bad for hiring you. After all, your boss is key to your current on-the-job satisfaction and to your future success in the organization — and perhaps even beyond. If there ever were a relationship for you to invest in, this is it. So here are five ways to get off to a great start with your new supervisor. Your efforts now will lay the groundwork for a productive working relationship over the long haul.
Watch your new boss and learn
"The No. 1 thing is to observe the company culture and your supervisor closely during your first few weeks," says Terese Corey Blanck, principal of College to Career, a career-consulting firm near Minneapolis. "Keep your opinions to yourself until you understand the company culture well."
Even something as simple as asking questions will make a difference in how your boss perceives you. "It's always better to clarify than to charge off and go completely in the wrong direction," Corey Blanck says.
Communicate the way the boss wants you to
Some bosses are very hands-on, keeping close tabs on you throughout your workday. Others may talk to you once a week or less often and send you on your way to do your job.
Whatever your supervisor's style, typically it's up to you to establish and maintain the lines of communication between the two of you. Using either e-mail or the occasional office visit, keep your boss informed:
• What are you working on?
• What have you finished, and what are the results?
• What can you help your supervisor with?
Look and act professional
Allison Hemming, author of Work It! How to Get Ahead, Save Your A--, and Land a Job in Any Economy and founder of The Hired Guns, a Manhattan-based interim workforce agency, talks about a candidate she recently placed with a major investment bank.
"We got a call from her manager, saying that she was doing a terrific job, but that she sometimes dressed inappropriately," says Hemming. "The manager asked me to have a chat with the person, because they really liked her and didn't want her attire to impact her ability to get promoted."
The new hire was a bit shocked, but she made the necessary changes to her wardrobe, Hemming says.
Any new employee can sit around. Be proactive, so your supervisor doesn't constantly have to hold your hand.
"Take initiative to get something done when you see it needs getting done," says Corey Blanck. "It can be something as simple as taking a stack of files and going through them before you're asked — anything to show that you're not beneath the small tasks."
"Come in early and stay late," says Stephen Viscusi, author of On the Job: How to Make It in the Real World of Work and a frequent workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America. "You should be busy whenever you're starting a new job, learning the ropes, but even when you're not, perfect the art of looking busy."
Do great work
This might seem like painfully obvious advice for developing a solid relationship with your new boss, but it bears repeating. "Make your boss look good by, guess what — just plain working hard," says Viscusi. "It's old-fashioned, but it really works."