Fitting in as the new temporary worker
It can be quite daunting on the first day of any new temporary assignment. This is especially true if you are entering an established team or covering for a popular member of permanent staff.
It is vital you make the right impression on day one. Not only will it make the assignment more enjoyable, it could lead on to better things.
The assumption is often that temporary workers don’t get stressed on day one, since they often have many “first days.” This is a myth. Expect to feel stress (in fact some stress is good) and realise that you will not get everything right on day one. Provided you give a professional account of yourself, you will be fine.
Getting the basics right
Even if it is short notice, there is no excuse for being late. Not only is it stressful for you, it also reflects poorly. Make sure you have a map (do not rely on being able to get a google map signal) and plan the transportation route.
Dress appropriately, therefore find out what the dress code is. You don’t want to turn up in jeans if people are suited and booted. Similarly wearing full 3-piece suit and a tie when everyone is in scruffy jeans is equally as bad. Above anything else you will feel uncomfortable in non-confirming workwear.
Meeting new colleagues
Meeting work colleagues can be the most daunting aspect of temping. Be friendly, professional and smile a lot and you can’t go far wrong. Listen, take notes and ask questions. You will soon endear yourself to them. Remember, they are likely to be very happy to see you, but also very busy, so don’t take any aloofness as anything other than a sign of an overstretched department. After all that is why you are there!
When non-work-related conversations strike up, be careful not to be too chatty, but feel free to get involved.
Form working relationships
Your role is to get on with everyone as best you can. Nobody wants a temporary worker who stirs trouble. Therefore it is important you form good working relationships. But like in any workplace, you are likely to have a range of personalities, from the outgoing loud ones through to the introspective quiet ones. Don’t ignore any new colleagues, but also try not to focus all your attention on any one member of the team.
If colleagues extend invitations for any social events, whether that be lunch, drinks after work or something more structured, then make the effort if you can. Not only can they help with working relationships, but they can also be fun. It also extends your networks and you become more memorable. If the opportunity for a permanent role arises or future temporary work, then the company will want to go for a person who fitted in with the team. A request from the team that it be you is perhaps the best reference you will ever have!
Each company is different.
Even within the same industry, different companies have different ways of working. Your role is to expect and accept this. Above all it is to be able to pick this up quickly. You do need to learn the company culture and mould yourself to it. But it is also important that you do not come across as being a “know it all”. You may think that you are offering a suggestion on how to improve things, but doing that on day one is only likely to antagonise people.
Things to avoid in your temping assignment:
- Avoid becoming embroiled in office politics or gossip.
- Avoid demanding too much time from your new work colleagues.
- Avoid sitting there unclear of your duties or guessing what to do.
- Avoid sitting there with nothing to do.
- Avoid using company internet or phones for anything other than work. Also avoid using your own phone during working hours.
- Avoid the appearance of being aloof. Be friendly and approachable.
- Avoid working to rule. That means being flexible and working a few minutes beyond the end time of the assignment.
The best approach is to consider your temporary assignment as a job interview. Not only can the company suss you out, but it is also your chance to get to know a different business, gain experience and decide if this is the right industry/company for you.