The most important thing you can do at the beginning of a new job is to observe. Think of the Alligator as it floats on the lake with just its eyes and ears above the water. Alligators and their cousins, crocodiles, have been around for millions of years while other groups like the dinosaurs became extinct. What is the secret to their success? Perhaps, it’s because they know when to lay low and watch, and when to spring into action.

Being a good observer enables us to take a step back and peer into ourselves and others. Just looking produces nothing. Observing produces insights when we assess for patterns, styles, and results.

This article will help you learn what to do to improve your observation skills in the workplace.

New Job Means New Culture

Although your new job description may be similar to your old one, cultures vary dramatically from company to company. Maybe at your old job, friendly teasing was acceptable and even encouraged, but that may not be the case at your new company. Developing a good understanding of your new company’s culture is essential. It will help you make a solid contribution and rise within the organization while avoiding some of the common pitfalls of a new job at a new company.

Start High by Laying Low.

Recently, a panel of HR professionals was polled, and they provided great suggestions for what a new employee should be observing:

  • Watch your coworkers do things. This will help you to assimilate into the corporate culture seamlessly.
  • Be observant about what people wear to work and dress accordingly.
  • See when people come and go. Try to plan your work schedule that way. You don’t want to be the only person with a different schedule. It will draw unnecessary attention to you.
  • Watch who seems to be on top of things before deciding whom to associate with most closely at work. If you identify the stars, you can make valuable connections.
  • Avoid the troublemakers. For example, usually, the person who comes up to ask you about your life story on the first day is the office gossip and should be avoided at all costs.
  • See how others interact with your boss. Try to emulate the person or people who seem to communicate best with him or her.
  • Watch to see how other people conduct personal business at work so that you can see how personal breaks, doctor’s appointments, e-mails, and personal phone calls are handled.

It’s hard to hold back in a new job when you want to impress the new boss and start forging connections with your co-workers. But holding back and getting a better sense of the lay of the land will give you a leg up on your long-term success. Remember, first impressions are hard to overcome, so be sure to know more about your environment before making the wrong kind of splash.

Are you thinking about moving to a new position? Merito Group can help. Contact us here for more information about opportunities in your area.


The Merito Group, recognized as a Top Executive and Professional Recruiting Firm by the Business Journal Newspapers, specializes in data-driven talent acquisition solutions including retained executive search, RPO high volume sourcing, and consulting services.