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Out with the old, in with the new

Starting a new job means you may be confronted with a range of challenges that might include new software or a fresh operating system. You’re sure you’re up to it, but suddenly you’re faced with a learning curve that seems as steep as Mount Everest. Don’t panic. Remember those first days on your last job? You probably felt just as nervous, but after a while, all those intimidating tasks became second nature. Here are some tips to get you over the mountain.

Question hour

Bosses sometimes expect employees to be psychic, but it’s best to ask about expectations upfront. In today’s job scenario, with more and more workers reporting to multiple bosses, remember that different people may have different preferences. You also may be assigned a particular person, a supervisor or a coworker, to whom questions should be addressed. However, in many offices, no one person holds all the answers or is always available. Therefore, it pays to identify your best sources for questions on different topics. If you’re on a team where each person’s tasks are similar, you may have lots of people to choose from. Other information sources could include IT specialists for computer matters, mailroom clerks for shipping instructions and human resources personnel for protocol questions.

Right time

In a really busy office, you may begin to feel like your constant questions are becoming annoying. Pay attention to what others are up to before you interrupt with a question. Consider their body language and tone of voice. Does your coworker or boss appear harried or in the middle of something? If yes, can the question wait? Can you drop that task and work on another until a more convenient time? Consider going to another source or accumulating multiple questions so you only have to bother the person once. Ask for a convenient time to set up an appointment, or email questions so they can be answered easily when convenient.

Noteworthy

This may seem like a no-brainer, but the trick to ramping up at a new job is accessing information when you need it. Make sure your how-to instructions and various lists are well-organised. If your job requires some moving around, it’s no good to have a helpful post-it back on your bulletin board. Use a portable notebook or accordion folder with labelled dividers that you can even take home for review.

File fast

If you’re not sure how to fill out a form or craft a document, ask for an example you can keep on file. File these samples in your notebook or folder as well.

Class apart

Many companies offer complimentary courses to help employees pick up speed on a variety of tasks, from software to customer service to specialty skills such as medical coding. Many firms post class descriptions and schedules on intranets. Your new workplace has factored in the time for the learning curve. When filling a key spot in a fast-paced environment, you may feel pressured to catch up quickly. But if you do new tasks too fast, you’re liable to make mistakes. If you’re concerned about taking too long, talk to your supervisor and communicate your appreciation of the importance of doing tasks correctly.

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