03/28/2008 02:47 am ET | Updated Nov 16, 2012

How To Make Your New Boss Happy

Dear Christine,

What are the expectations of me the first day and week of a new job? And then what are the expectations after three months? - Commenter Mr. Wampler

Dear Mr. Wampler,

Thanks for posting your question as it's a question that all of us should be asking of ourselves and our employers. Meeting the expectations of our job early on is important in any industry - from Corporate America to retail to childcare. It's dangerous to assume that an employer is going to clearly articulate everything that is expected of you; therefore, it's incumbent upon any new employee to inquire about and investigate expectations if you really want to shine. After you are offered a job, if exact responsibilities and requirements are not clearly articulated by your boss, just ask!

For extra advice on this topic, I consulted with my 30/20 Vision Podcast co-host, Alexandra Levit who is a career coach and consultant and author of the book They Don't Teach Corporate in College. Here is her insightful feedback regarding expectations of a new employee:

* First Day/Week: In your first day or even week at a new job, expectations are minimal. Focus on making a positive impression on the co-workers you meet, which includes dressing professionally and projecting an aura of confidence, enthusiasm, and respect. Get your online and offline systems in order so that you are prepared to begin working as soon as possible, attend any and all new hire events, orientations, and trainings, and follow HR's instructions to the letter.

* First 90 Days and Beyond: Have a sit-down meeting with your new boss to define concrete goals, and the recommended means to achieve them. Use these to immediately get busy making a contribution so that you have documented achievements to speak of at the conclusion of your three-month probation. If things are a bit slow, don't just sit at your desk and twiddle your thumbs. Read all you can on your company or industry, and ask your team how you can help. Join committees proactively so that you become visible within the organization, and look for areas where your expertise is sorely needed. Resist the temptation to jump in and take over, though, as your colleagues will be expecting you to fit their mold, not the other way around.

I echo Alexandra's advice, and also encourage you to observe your fellow co-workers and superiors in your first few weeks at a job. Watch how they work, how they communicate, how they attain goals and meet expectations, and how they interact in various situations. Assess who seems to be successful and effective. Notice which employees get the most attention and/or responsibility from upper level management. Those individuals are most likely meeting the expectations of their job so observe and learn from them, while continuing to develop and groom your own work ethic.

For more tips on being an impressive new hire employee, scroll down for this week's TIDBIT.

- Christine

Please send me your questions by posting them in the comments section below. You can also email me at

*I'm currently accepting submissions for Chicken Soup for the Twenty-Something Soul. Click here for details.

Twenty-Something Tidbit excerpted from They Don't Teach Corporate in College:

The most important thing you can do at the beginning of a new job is pay attention. You don't have to be a CIA operative to harness the power of smart observation, and you should become an expert at keeping your eyes and ears open and mastering the corporate culture of which you are now a part. I know you're eager to let the company know who you are and what you're all about, but keep in mind that the most successful employees are able to effectively assimilate into their company's culture.

Do your best to lay low in the beginning. Take the time to study every aspect of your new company, including how people present themselves, how they work together and how they interact with executives, managers and clients. What are the written and unwritten rules of engagement? It's particularly useful to watch how employees conduct non-company business during the workday so that you can get a sense of how personal breaks, e-mail and phone calls will be tolerated. As you learn, begin to adapt your behavior and work style to suit the work environment.

Examine your company's Web site, annual report and recruiting materials for clues about its mission, goals, image and values. Is your company more focused on forging ahead in the market or delivering superior customer service? Is the culture guided by competition or cooperation? Is it more important for employees to be solely focused on hardcore business realities or to be well rounded in their professional and personal lives?

Remember that although the business world is the same in many ways, cultures vary dramatically from organization to organization. Just because it was perfectly acceptable to order snacks for an afternoon brainstorm at your old company doesn't mean your new boss will think this is an acceptable expense. Developing a good understanding of your new company's culture will unquestionably serve you well as you look for ways to make a contribution to the organization.