Please Stand Up

Image from: http://todaysseniorsnetwork.comIn an office environment and general business, you are bound to meet new people in various situations. You may have people walk into your office while you’re sitting at your desk, you may be the one walking into someone’s office while they are sitting. No matter the scenario, it is always best to stand, introduce yourself and shake their hand.

As a new employee, it is easy to remember this form of politeness, as you’re likely the one to be walking around meeting people. However, you should remember to stand when you meet any new person, especially in a business situation.

Some etiquette experts believe women don’t have to stand when they meet someone or when someone new walks into the room. I disagree. Standing, even if you are short, keeps everyone on the same in the same plane and at eye level. Not to mention, standing keeps you from subconsciously acting like a member of the royal family with servants to kiss your hand.

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First Day of Work

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Ask just about anyone you know and they will tell you the first day at a new job is like the first day of school. In addition to learning where you’ll work, where the bathrooms are and where the cafeteria is, you’ll meet people and you should be the person you want to be. I disagree with the metaphor.

If you’ve done your homework and kept in touch with your future supervisor during the transition, you know exactly what is expected of you on the first day. You know what the dress code is, what time to show up and if you are lucky if you need to bring a lunch or not.

As for meeting people, of course first impressions are important, but the people you meet will also want to give the best first impression. I suggest being relaxed and polite and yourself. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, that approach never works out in the long run.

A successful first day at a new job takes a little planning. Set the alarm a few minutes early, or even a full half hour. Over dress a little. If everyone else in the office is dressed up for your first day, you do not want to be under dressed. Take a few extra moments before you walk out the door to remember that they hired you. You belong there. I don’t suggest being cocky, but simply confidant. When you arrive, be friendly. Make eye contact. Say hello and try to remember everyone’s names. You might be more successful than you thought!

Don’t be afraid to be lost or not know an answer. Ask for directions and ask for help. Everyone in the office has some knowledge that you need, even if it is only where the bathrooms are located.

Relax and above all else, be friendly. Soon you will know the ins and outs of the office. Until then enjoy the opportunities as they arise and use this as a chance to get to know everyone without any preconceived notions.

Cleaning Out Your Desk

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If you’ve been thinking ahead, you have probably been taking non-essential items home with you since you put in your official two-week notice (more details here). If you haven’t, there is still time to catch up.

The most important thing to do first is see if you can get your hands on one of the most coveted items in the office: a copy paper box. If you can get the lid too, take it. You won’t regret it, especially if it is raining.

Non-essential desk items should be going home with you every night. This includes any knickknacks or personal items you don’t use daily. For me, this includes the snowman coffee mug (with top hat lid!) and the birthday hat from Chevy’s. Use your judgment here. It is easier to take a few little things home every night than it will be to pack everything up on the last day.

Make a list of every place in the office you have items. Don’t forget the refrigerator and any common areas. I still miss the lunch box I left behind a few years ago. Please, don’t repeat my mistake.

On the last day, pack stuff into the copy paper box as you use them for the last time. If you are able to, try and do a majority of this while everyone else is at lunch so as not to cause too much of a distraction.

Your desk was (hopefully!) clean and empty when you arrived. Try to at least leave it in the same condition. 

Fair warning: Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT take office items that are not yours. Do you really need another stapler or tape dispenser? I think not. This theft reflects poorly on you and may leave your past employer with a bad memory. After all the hard work you’ve done to leave on a good note, don’t ruin it all by taking something you don’t really need.

Answering the Why Are You Leaving Questions

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As word spreads around the office, there are going to be the inevitable questions. I suggest being positive and honest, again without being cruel. 

The most common questions I’ve encountered recently are: 

Why are you leaving?
Where are you going?
When is your last day?
Why didn’t you tell me you were looking elsewhere? 

Make sure you can answer at least this in a professional, encouraging way. 

If you have followed the previous advice (here) for how to best give your two weeks notice, then the core people who need to know already know. If you haven’t and they’ve heard it through the office gossip mill, try and pull them aside and have a one on one conversation with them. 

Now is the chance to say, I am so sorry you didn’t hear it from me. I was waiting to tell you until everything became concrete. I am sad to be leaving you, but I’m excited for this opportunity to take my career in a different direction. 

You will likely have lots of these one-on-one conversations and if you are lucky. This is a chance for you to tactfully explain your reasons for leaving, but I urge you to remain positive. Don’t complain and don’t air dirty laundry. 

You may be asked questions about who will be taking over your responsibilities and projects. If you don’t know, find out as soon as possible. Reassure our co-workers that you aren’t abandoning them and value them even though you won’t be working side by side anymore.