A beginner's guide to how to be good at your work
I completed my MBA from IIM Rohtak in March 2021 and started working as a Sr. Business Development analyst in a prestigious IT firm on 18th May the same year. After the 2 month training period, we were assigned to work on different projects. Since then, I have learned a lot from my seniors, colleagues, friends, and from my own experiences. I know I am not an expert in this field. But I think if I share my learnings so far, it would benefit all my blog readers, especially the ones who are beginning their careers this year.
1. When in doubt ask questions: During my training period, we had a lot of sessions with technical experts as well as leaders to equip us with the right set of knowledge and skills needed to work. It can be a little difficult to ask questions initially because you are new to the organization and are still adjusting to the new environment. But I tried to overcome that uncomfortable feeling and I asked questions whenever anything was not clear to me. It helped me gain a hold over the fundamentals and my life became a little easy afterward.
All of us know the importance of asking questions, still, a lot of us hesitate to do it. It might be because we don’t want people to think we are dumb. But trust me the best time to ask a question is as soon as possible. Because initially when you are new, no one is expecting anything from you. That’s the time you should ask a lot of questions, no matter how dumb it is. Because if you don’t, imagine yourself asking the same dumb question when you are 2-3 years into the organization? Ha Ha - do it sooner.
2. Listen with attention: Most of the time it happens that if we don’t understand some technical jargon being used, we tend to lose concentration. Try to focus and listen to the speaker delivering a session or people having any discussion. It's natural to zone out when you don’t understand something. One of the tricks is noting down words that you don’t get right away. Then after the discussion simply google it or ask someone (preferably the person who said it) to explain it to you. I have found that people are more than happy to help. Also keep a water bottle handy with you, when you sense that you are zoning out, have a sip.
3. Take notes: Yes, it sounds boring and a lot of work. But in the long run, it will help you more than anything. During any discussion or session take notes in your own words of whatever you could understand. It can even be a couple of lines or bullet points. We are all humans and we tend to forget things with time, if you keep a note, you can refer it in the future whenever needed. This will help you to prevent asking repetitive questions and will save your time too. I like using Microsoft OneNote to take my notes digitally. It keeps it well organized and it’s easy to find something in it later on.
4. Understand your work: It's important to understand your job profile thoroughly. As simple as it may sound, I was not 100% clear about my roles and responsibilities. The clearer you are about your day-to-day work, the more likely you are to enjoy it. Because when we don’t understand something, it’s a natural tendency of our brains to shut down. Also, since you are new and a lot of people know that, there might be some instances when someone will ask you to do their share of work. You can only say no when you understand your boundaries.
5. Participate in discussions: As new joiners, we feel that if two seniors are talking let’s not disturb their discussion. We tend to park our thoughts for later. Avoid doing that. I found on multiple occasions that what I was thinking was absolutely right and if I would have said it right when we were having a discussion, it might have reached a conclusion sooner. Having experience is good but sometimes even experienced people need a fresh perspective. We shouldn’t hesitate to provide that. It will boost your confidence for sure. And even if you are wrong, you are just a beginner, no one is expecting anything from you anyway ;)
6. Learn from your past experience: I have had the privilege of already having 3 years of work experience in an IT firm. There were a lot of mistakes I did then that I wanted to avoid this time. For example, usually, in the office there are talks about who is going to leave when, making jokes about colleagues and managers, spending a lot of time in tea breaks and snacks than actually doing your job and learning things. Since I joined online and have been working from home a lot of these mistakes were automatically cut down. But still, I was part of conversations where people were continuously talking about how their current job sucks so much. The funny thing was that they were just talking and not taking any action. Since I had learned from my past mistakes, I decided to not pay attention to all these negativities and avoid it as much as possible. One more thing I learned was being kind to people along with maintaining your own self-respect. You should be polite but at the same time not be a doormat also. If you also have past work experience, you must have learned a lot of things too, try implementing it.
7. Have a mentor: This is very crucial. Although almost all the organizations do assign an official mentor for new joiners sometimes it's not enough. Do not hesitate to reach out to seniors, what I have realized is that most of the seniors are always ready to help new joiners because they have gone through the same kind of path. If you are assigned a project with a senior ask them to include you in each and every discussion. If any work is given to you give it your best. If the senior realizes that you actually want to learn they will impart more knowledge to you than he would have if you didn’t show the intent.
8. Have a circle of friends: I was lucky enough to get some really good friends when I joined. We helped each other whenever needed. There were a lot of things that I didn’t know which I learned from them. I also told them a few things that I could understand well. When you are new to a place, having friends help you ease out the stress as well. We always had each other’s back and helped quickly if anything was urgently needed. So my advice to all the readers is don’t just focus on work, try to mingle and talk to people. I know it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. It's not needed that you have to go out with people or make them laugh. You can simply help someone or ask for help if needed and be connected to people.
9. Evaluate your interest: I wanted to save the best for the last. Sometimes we focus on how to do things the right way and forget whether we are doing the right thing or not. If your heart is not into something, no matter how hard you try, how many hours you work, or tips and tricks you follow, you would still not like doing your work. It’s because that’s not what interests you. If that’s the case then try to explore other opportunities, inside or out of that organization. But before reaching that conclusion be sure that it’s because the work doesn’t interest you and not because you don’t understand it and want to escape. Because this circle of escaping from one work to another might continue in your new job as well.
I hope this was useful. Keep following for more such insights. Let me know your experience and suggestions about how to be good at your work, in the comments below.