Behave at Work

Your attitude is just as important as your skills and abilities. From high-stress office places to quick-paced restaurants, learning to negotiate a new job requires a unique mixture of people skills and dedication. You can learn to make a good impression on your first day, and turn that good impression into a good reputation into the future.


Starting a New Job

  1. Get there early. On your first day, it's important to make a good impression and to show up on time. Make sure you're there early enough to get fully prepared and changed, if necessary, to start your shift. Be there ready to go 10-15 minutes before your shift starts.
    • If you have to take public transportation, or your new workplace is somewhere you're unfamiliar with, take the trip a few days ahead of time to make sure you know exactly how long it will take, and where it is.
    • Don't stay beyond the time you're scheduled. Leaving late may indicate that you aren't able to budget your time effectively. Impress your employer by arriving early enough to prepare for the day, then leave when you're finished.
  2. Listen and apply what you hear. You won't be expected to excel right away at most jobs, and most employers know that there will be a learning curve with new hires. So, don't worry so much about making mistakes and messing up your first day, but focus on learning as much as possible and listening closely to make sure you don't miss things.
    • Make it your goal to only make a mistake once. If your boss tells you how to do something, listen and remember so you won't have to ask again.
  3. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Lots of new employees will be too sheepish to ask questions, and will blunder into doing things incorrectly. Know enough to know when you need help. There's no shame in asking for help, especially on your first day. It'll be better to have it explained once and be sure you'll do it right than to try to guess and get exposed later.[1]
  4. Try to anticipate what needs to happen next. The process of every workplace is very different. Even if you're skilled and talented, it takes some time to figure out what needs to happen, and in what order. The best way to stand out on your first day as a good worker is to try to analyze the situation and figure out what needs to happen next.
    • At some jobs, your first day can involve a lot of standing around and watching. Jump in when you see an opening. If you see another employee carrying a big stack of bags from one place to another, you don't need to be told that you could help out.
    • At some jobs, you'll need to ask instead of just acting. If you're starting at a kitchen and finish up with some dishes, it might seem obvious that they'll go to the dishwasher, but there may be some other process. Ask.
  5. Clean up without being asked. One thing that's consistent at every workplace is cleanliness and safety. Straightening up doesn't usually need to be coached. Look out for things you can organize, or ways that you can clean up to make the workplace much easier.
    • If you work in an office, change out the coffee filter and make a fresh pot. Clean up the cups and spoons and throw away the refuse. Take the trash to the bin. Help straighten up other public areas if they need straightening.
    • If you work in a kitchen or a restaurant, keep an eye out for obstacles that someone may trip over, or help clean up dishes in the back. Take a turn at the sink if you need to. try to find a way to stay busy.
  6. Just be yourself. It's not what you know, how talented you are, or even what you do on the first day that will make it a success. It's your attitude and behavior. Your employer hired you because there was something about your combination of skills and personality that will benefit your workplace. Have faith in your ability to succeed as yourself, and don't think you need to be someone you're not.
    • You don't have to act like your coworkers act, for good or for worse. It takes time for people to adjust to a new person in the workplace, so give your co-workers time to adjust to your personality rather than changing your behavior to match theirs.

Being a Good Worker

  1. Set short-term work goals. Being a good employee involves going above and beyond the call of duty. Try to be the best employee that you can be by setting personal goals in the short term to help yourself stand out. After a few days of work, try to identify the things you need to work on the most and make it your goal to get where you want to be.[2]
    • If you're working in a kitchen, make it your goal to have all the sandwich recipes memorized by the end of the month, so you don't have to consult your cheat sheet. Or make it your goal to get your plate time down to that of the other employees.
    • Focus more on the quality of your work and less on your efficiency in your first couple of weeks. Make every sandwich well before you worry about making it quickly. Worry about getting faster and producing more as you go on.
  2. Be willing and realistic about what you can do. Good employees are volunteers, willing to take on extra responsibilities and tasks when asked. If you want to cultivate a reputation as a reliable employee, then be willing to do things that need to be done.
    • It's also important to know your limits. If you've already got 10 things to do before you leave today, don't volunteer to do one more thing that's going to take several hours. Budget your time effectively.
    • Be cautious when you need to be too. If a fellow employee asks you to do something you're not sure about, it may be more helpful to think up an alternative plan. Be tactful and defer to your boss for help, if necessary.
  3. Just do your work, don't do anyone else's. Good employees put their heads down and mind their own business. When you're at work, stay focused on doing what you need to do to the best of your abilities. Don't spend time getting into other people's work and other people's business. Stand out by getting everything done that you need to do.
    • Try to avoid workplace gossip. It's easy to group into little work cliques that can distract you from your responsibilities. Just focus on doing your work, not how well other people do their work.
  4. Be active. If you see debris littering the floor of your workplace, don't walk around it, then inform your boss that someone needs to do a little picking up. Just pick it up yourself. Do things for the sake of creating a better work environment, not looking like you're a better employee.
  5. Bring something extra to the table. Do your work well and complete it, then look for ways you can do a little extra to help the company you work for reaching its goals. Good employees come to the table with creative ideas for improvements and efficiency tactics to help make your workplace a better place.
    • Try to come up with a few creative ideas each couple of months, then keep them on hand in case they come in handy. Grab five minutes to chat about your idea in private with your boss, instead of bringing it up at a big group meeting.

Having the Right Attitude

  1. Establish long-term work goals. Where do you want to be in five years? Ten? How can this job help you get there? Set clear and achievable goals for yourself at your job, and work toward them each week. Knowing how your work relates to your ultimate goals in life will give you self-assurance and provide motivation for you to advance your company and yourself.
    • try to keep a list of what you're working toward, to help get you through the weeks. What you're doing right now might not seem that important, but how is this helping you get what you want? How is this moving you up the ladder?
    • The ultimate goals of the company you work for are also important, and should be kept at the front of your mind.
  2. Speak well of other employees. Employers appreciate employees who support other good workers. When you work hard and consistently help further your company's goals, you become a trusted voice. Use your voice to help others who are worthy of praise and advancement.
    • If other employees mock or criticize a fellow employee, don't participate. It can be easy to form snarky cliques at work, but it can create a toxic work culture. Don't be a part of it.
    • If you play dirty in order to gain position in the company, you may gain ground in the short term, but lose it in the long term as you built up bad relationships with other employees. Allow your employer to evaluate your work and skills, and determine where you fit best in the company.[3]
  3. Get invested in what you're doing. Employers value employees who take pride in what they're doing. If you're doing something you're really passionate about, that's easy. But if you're working a job for the wage, it can be a little more difficult to find that passion. Find some way to get more invested in what you're doing, to let your passion shine through.
    • Stay focused now what this job affords you, and remind yourself that succeeding in this job makes all those things easier. If you're working to feed your family, or to pay your way through college, remind yourself that what you do at work has a direct impact on those parts of your life.
  4. Treat everyone you encounter with dignity and respect. While some people can be very difficult to interact with in the workplace, when you treat them poorly you should remember that you are negatively affecting your career opportunities with the company. Your co-workers were as carefully selected as you were, so showing contempt for and disrespect for any co-worker you encounter shows a disregard for the intellect of your employer.


  • Be confident and honest in your dealings with others in the workplace.


  • Beware the fishermen/women. In nearly every workplace, you'll find at least one man or woman who constantly fishes for information about your pay/schedule/personal life; it's best to avoid answering questions like these.

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