Mistakes All Employees Make (and How to Get Past Them)
Face it: mistakes happen on-the-job, especially when employees are new to the company. It’s important to coach employees to help them overcome issues and make them better performers. Here are several mistakes all employees make, and how to get past them:
Mistake #1: Dressing Poorly
Dressing poorly in the first week of the job isn’t a make-or-break kind of mistake, but it is important to address the expected dress code for work. “Our company believes that our appearance sets the tone for our organization’s performance,” says Bryan Clayton, CEO of Your Green Pal. “If you look sharp, neat and organized, people tend to take you more seriously and respond in a positive manner.
My first rule in a situation like this is to take ownership of the problem. Let the employee know that they are not at fault, especially if you failed to share this with them. Address the fact that it is all about perception and it does not mean we need to agree or like it, but it is an important part for them to be successful.”
Mistake #2: Not Speaking Up
Most every new employee wants to come across as alert and aware, so they hold questions back. “Too often, people think their inquiries are silly, or that they will be viewed in a more negative light if they don’t appear to be ‘in the know,'” says Jana Tulloch, HR Professional at DevelopIntelligence. Adds Dana Case, Director of Operations of MyCorporation.com, “This affects just about everyone in the workplace — new hires may feel too shy to ask and senior-level employees may feel embarrassed, given their position within the company.
One of the best ways to deal with the fear of speaking up in front of everyone is to encourage anyone with questions to email you or stop by your office afterward to ask privately.” Says Tulloch, “It helps keep lines of communication open, and helps to build trust.”
Mistake #3: Not Gauging the Culture
Employees who show up on their first day dressed to the nines and with a briefcase in tow certainly get points for making a professional first impression, but sometimes, the culture calls for more informal attire, approach, and general decorum. “One of the biggest mistakes that I see employees making early on is how to gauge a situation’s level of casualness,” says Jake Tully, Head of Creative Department of TruckDrivingJobs.com.
“All too often new employees seem rigid and formal because they don’t want to look cocky, when in reality they may be causing a problem with how uncomfortable they seem. On the other end of the spectrum, employees are sometimes all too ready to kick back when the situation calls for some restraint and focus.”
Mistake #4: Fueling Office Gossip
New employees shouldn’t be fueling office gossip with assumptions. “One other tip is to not make assumptions about other employees or organizational changes and the reasons behind why things got done the way they did,” says Tulloch. “There have been so many instances where assumptions about a situation were voiced and it fueled the office rumor mill, particularly where personnel issues are concerned such as promotions, transfers, and staff leaving.”
Mistake #5: Doing Something Wrong
The cardinal sin (at least in a new employee’s eyes) is to do something wrong. However, mess-ups happen. Once the mistake is made, it’s important to correct it if possible. The mistake may be as small as answering the phone the wrong way, or a more significant error, such as spilling the beans on a new undisclosed project to a client. Discuss the blunder with the new employee, and find out whether the error was a first-time inexperienced mistake, or a lack of understanding the process.
Evaluate whether your instructions could have been clearer, or whether buddying the employee with an experienced colleague might have helped. See what they’re receptive to, and take the time to train the employee before putting them in a position of visibility. Keep in mind the learning curve that comes with being hired for a new job. “All jobs take at least 1 year for someone to truly get good or even begin to get good at them,” says Fletcher Wimbush of
Keep in mind the learning curve that comes with being hired for a new job. “All jobs take at least 1 year for someone to truly get good or even begin to get good at them,” says Fletcher Wimbush of TheHireTalent.com. “Mostly it’s learning company software, culture, and processes. Even when people have a lot of experience these things take time to learn and adapt to.”