I start a new job soon. I am quite looking forward to it but, no matter whom you are, whether you are becoming a little long in the tooth or are still a bit wet behind the ears, it’s always a tad daunting when you start a new job. Everything is a little bit strange, or at least it’s a little bit different to any previous offices in which you might have worked. The thought of taking on the new role itself is enough to give anyone a rumbling belly or the odd sleepless night of course, but getting used to your new physical environment can also be stressful. And then, of course, there are the new people to get to know. It is impossible to avoid being the new lad or lass for at least a few days and weeks, but here are five people you should try to identify in your new workplace and make nice with them as quickly as possible. They will make your early days in your new surroundings so much easier to handle.
The IT Guy – Unless you’ve joined a firm of Trappist monks, interaction with, and reliance upon technology is completely unavoidable in most new jobs. The IT guys, naturally, tend to think they are more clued up and on the ball than any other team in the firm, but the chances are that the early days with your new kit will still not go smoothly. Your IT team will claim to have best, simplest, most standardised, controlled and up-to-date IT set-up in the world but in those first few days, it simply won’t work for you. You need to find the guy on the Service Desk who is the “Helper”. There’s always one, the one who will often bypass the call logging queue to help you and knows where the supply of properly working mice and crumb-free keyboards are kept. In time, he will probably also find a way to grant you access to websites that are out of bounds to the general populous. Find this guy and be-friend him. He will become a life-saver.
The Feeder – Working for a living is a thirsty and hungry business. It is therefore important to identify the Feeder. She is very easy to spot. And believe me, I’m not being sexist by pigeon-holing this role as a female trait but the statistics will back me up on this – it is invariably a woman. Take a look around your office and keep an eye out for tell-tale packets of biscuits and cakes tucked away in the corner of a desk. This kind of desk will normally belong to a Feeder. The Feeder can be relied upon to make frequent visits to the canteen or the local newsagent for confectionary provisions, will definitely volunteer to do the Dress Down Friday butty run and will ensure that the office kitchen is never, ever short of tea, coffee or milk.
The Clippie – Getting your hands on simple office stationery items has always been something of an ordeal but, in the austere conditions in which we all have to operate these days, it is now nigh on impossible. In one organisation, it took me six weeks to get someone to tell me the actual location of the stationery cupboard. When I found it, it was locked. When I found a key and opened it, it was virtually empty. In any case, even a fully furnished stationery cupboard usually contains only those things that you will never really need, like an A0-size hole-punch, multi-coloured A4 cardboard file dividers and industrial strength bulldog clips. However, if you are looking for anything remotely every-day or useful, like paper clips, staples or, heaven help us, paper, you will never find these items in the stationery cupboard. They will all have been snaffled within five minutes of being delivered by Facilities and will be tucked away in someone’s desk drawer. If I were you, I’d check the Feeder’s desk, because it will probably be her. She’ll have the entire company stock of pink highlighter pens in there as well.
The Social Networker – If you’re the type of team player who defines team playing in the workplace as getting involved in the all the extra-curricular social activities then you need to find the firm’s unofficial social secretary. As with most of the other office animal types, they are fairly easy to spot. For example, if you are asked within your first couple of days if you are on Facebook, the enquirer is likely to be a member of the firm’s party circuit. If the same person is often to be found wandering around the office, stopping off for a chat at every fourth or fifth desk, then you have more than likely found one of the firm’s ‘players’. If you have aspirations of joining the company social scene, you need to keep this person close. They will tell you to which drinking cliques it is best to attach yourself if you want to look cool and have the most fun. They will also be able to point out those individuals who it is wise to avoid on the monthly post-work freebie drinks gathering because of their failure to put their hand in their pocket once the company-provided booze runs out and the party moves on to the pub.
The Climber – You can stare at organisation charts and reporting structures until you are blue in the face but it doesn’t always provide an accurate representation of where the real political power lies. The Climber likes to be in the know and will spend an awful lot of time building up their unofficial dossiers. Like the Social Networker, the Climber will also be a regular wanderer around the office. However, take note of where he or she stops to chat. If this is predominately at the desk of a department head, or some other mid-level manager, and they are talking in hushed tones interspersed with the odd conspiratorial giggle, they will invariably be indulging in a spot of office political gossip. Take any information you might glean from this with a spade load of salt, however. It might be mildly entertaining, but it is information that isn’t worth very much in the grand scheme of things. In my opinion, your time would be much better spent in cahoots with the Social Networker. Or better still, the Feeder.
Enjoy the weekend – Griff