The Most Important Lesson to Remember When Starting Your New Job

Often times we begin a new job with a strong amount of motivation, a bit of nervousness and an excitement that drives us into the office with a smile on our face. With the intentions of being “the best intern/entry level/manager/executive/etc.”, we want to get straight to work. We get out of bed in the morning to impress the boss, make some money and move our way up in the business. But too often our path slightly veers in a direction that isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s not always the best direction for achieving the goals we’re striving to reach. We work, we’re productive and we put the pen on the paper faster than we ever have before. And why is it that we do this? Because we still have the fresh motivation of a new start. We focus on our work, our boss and how hard we feel others perceive us to be working. But what’s the most important lesson to remember when starting your new job? What is it that we forget about all too often when we want to get things done right away? And what’s the one thing we should prioritize over everything else for the first few weeks of our new opportunity?


I started my new job four days ago. Even better, this is the first “big boy job” I’ve ever had. I graduated from Creighton University a month ago, landed a job at a company (Carson Wealth Management) that I can already tell I’m falling in love with and over the past few days I’ve been wondering how to spark the fire to my career. Every day I fill out a to-do list with six tasks to accomplish, all ranking in importance levels, and every day my number one priority is to meet five new people in the office. But, it’s not about five quick handshakes in the break room; it’s about having meaningful discussions and remembering names for a reason. So how does one do that?

1.     The outline
  • Make meeting ‘X’ amount of people a daily task in your first three weeks of work
  • Print off your task list and place it where you’ll consistently see it
2.     Introduce yourself to someone
  • Shake their hand
  • Ask them a meaningful question
  • Be yourself
3.     Track it
  • Go back to your desk
  • Write down their name and something interesting about them
  • Keep what you’ve written in a folder
4.     Look up their photos to solidify your memory
  • Utilize social media, professional social media, company website, etc.

And lastly…

5.     The hard part
  • Use their name when you see them

One of the most difficult parts of remembering people isn’t the remembering itself; it’s the unsureness we feel when greeting them by name. Although you’re 99% sure the law clerk’s name is Joseph, that 1% of insecurity feels like a monster. So what ends up happening?

You: “Good morning… sir!”    *trying to give some personality with the word sir

Joseph (sir): “Good morning Nick! Excited for day number four?”

You: “Absolutely! Have a great day!”

After this happens you walk away still wondering if his name was Joseph. And even worse, this is what goes through your head:

“Dang! Such a nice guy and I couldn’t even remember his name! He remembered my name, but I couldn’t remember his. Was it Joseph? No, it couldn’t be. But maybe it was. It was probably Joseph. Maybe it was John though. Or Jimmy? Honestly, it doesn’t even matter what his name was because I couldn’t remember it and he remembered mine. And because I didn’t use his name, Joseph/John/Jimmy probably thinks less of me now.”

Joseph/John/Jimmy knows you’re the new person at work. Regardless of all the marbles rolling around in your head, be confident that his name is Joseph. You’ve talked to him before. You’ve studied his name. You’ve basically found a way to expedite the name learning process. And the best part is that Joseph, along with everyone else in the office, would really appreciate it if he knew that you put effort into learning who he is. If you get his name wrong, so be it. He’ll probably just laugh and correct you saying, “Ha! That’s the struggle of being new. Don’t worry about it…sir.” Don’t be tentative; smile, say hello, and greet people by name.

So, things to remember:

1.)    You’re not alone. Everyone struggles with names.

2.)    It’s okay to ask someone what their name is a few times. You’re the new employee. Everybody else has felt the same thing before.

3.)    Set goals to know everyone in the office. Don’t be their acquaintance. Don’t be their coworker. Be a stakeholder in their life.

4.)    Study what you’ve tracked. You’ve written names and facts down. You’ve looked at pictures. This will speed up the process immensely.

5.)    Care about what others have to say. If you are genuinely interested in your new career you’ll be genuinely interested in those surrounding you at the office. Chat about life, work, sports and/or anything else. You’ll never be successful or happy with work until you realize that everybody needs to work for the team’s success. That means building team chemistry along the way.

Start your new job on a good note: work hard, develop relationships and be yourself through every step of the process. Make getting to know your coworkers a written goal, not just a simple thought. And lastly, remember everyone else understands what it’s like to be “the new guy.”

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