There’s no better feeling than no longer being “the new guy.” You’ve made work friends, you’re taking on more important work, you’re in the groove, you know where to put your food in the fridge so you can find it later, and it’s fair to say that no one can stop you as you climb the ladder to success.
Before you sit back and relax too much, know that the biggest mistake people make three, four, five months into a new gig is they think the “hard work’s” over. The typical mindset is that once you have the hang of everything, there’s nothing else to worry about.
Well, I can name three things that happen as you get comfortable in that new job—and why they’re actually holding you back.
1. You Act Like You Know Everything
We all ideally want to work until the point where we can safely say we know everything. And sure, after a couple months you should be able to do all your work without your boss peering over your shoulder.
The thing is, we can get a bit cocky as a result. It’s hard not to want to show off to newcomers how much knowledge you have of the company or how much you’ve accomplished, but even long-time employees have to constantly work to stay on top of their game.
For example, companies shift and change, industries evolve, the economy may dictate what’s feasible at your organization. Your team will grow, shrink, combine with other teams. You’ll pick up projects that you didn’t initially sign up for. What your job is today probably won’t be the same a year from now.
Basically, this means you’ll never know everything about everything—so don’t act like you do. Be open to listening to your colleagues, to being challenged by others, and to learning from everyone.
2. You Only Do Your Job Description
It took you a couple months, but you finally conquered your to-do list. You come into the office knowing exactly what you need to do, and you do it with impressive efficiency. Your boss is pleased with your work, your co-workers ask you for help (because you’re the office pro now), and it seems like you’ve got a handle on all the basics.
But isn’t doing the same ol’ thing a bit, well, boring? That’s because most likely, there’s so much more you can be doing. Has another team reached out for volunteers on a new assignment? Is there an inter-department committee you could join? Does your co-worker seem overwhelmed and could use an extra hand? Is there a project you’ve wanted to experiment with? Have you had coffee with everyone in your office?
Your “job” is so much more than your day-to-day tasks, so there are always ways to expand it—and you should constantly be thinking about how to do it.
3. You Stop Asking Questions
Like I said, it’s easy for us to assume we’re supposed to know everything once we’re settled in. But the big problem that comes with this is that we become afraid of asking questions. We’re worried that people will think, “Wow, how can she not know this after being here for so long?”
If you don’t know how to create an Excel formula, or send an appropriate follow-up email to a client, you still have the right to ask your boss or co-workers for help—in fact, you should if it means you risk messing up something.
Let me tell you now, no question is a dumb question. I know from personal experience that not knowing someone’s name from another department is not the end of the world. Not understanding a project’s history isn’t a big deal. Just ask! Today!
Because the longer you wait, let’s be real, it’ll get even more awkward to acknowledge. Plus, showing initiative and curiosity is what gets the best employees far.
Honestly, you’ll never be truly “settled” into a role—and before you freak out about that, remember it’s a wonderful thing. Because if you embrace it, your job will always challenge you and you’ll continue to keep improving.
Photo of person talking courtesy of Portra Images/Getty Images.