New to your job? Then check out these behaviors to avoid – so you won’t get yourself fired.

Share story

Here is a cautionary tale from a reader.

I started a new admin job. I am good at problem-solving, so I proposed an idea in writing with video to my boss on correcting an issue I saw occurring in the office. I thought my boss was supportive of my idea, but when the office manager found out, she went ballistic and called me a “know it all.” She made comments saying that I was “confrontational, condescending, rude and disrespectful.” We argued. Needless to say, I no longer work there because my boss said there was nothing he could do [to save my job].

Sometimes, it’s not what is said but how it’s said that makes the difference. By not involving the office manager in the discussion about her suggestion, this new employee likely alienated her and made her feel like the new employee was going around or above her.

Being the new person in an office can bring a fresh pair of eyes to see situations or problems; however, it’s rarely a good idea to propose solutions to issues before working there long enough to understand the company culture, politics and people.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Here are behaviors to avoid when you’re new to a job:

Don’t bother learning the company culture. Every company has a certain culture with various norms, beliefs, values and attitudes. If you don’t take the time to understand the culture, you won’t be able to determine the best way to pitch new ideas or solutions to problems. You might even take your ideas to the wrong person, as the new employee, above, found out.

Don’t try to understand company politics. Company politics are usually about power. In the new employee’s example, the office manager wielded more power than the employee realized. Had she taken her idea to the office manager and involved her in the creation of a solution, the new employee’s job outcome might have been different.

Question the way (and why) things are done. Before sharing your opinions, take the time to identify all angles of a situation. Then you can dig deeper by saying, “Help me understand how…” or “How does department ABC then use our information to…?” and avoiding comments such as, “Where I came from, this is how we did it and it worked much better.”

Bottom line: When you’re a new employee, be inquisitive, but be humble in your approach. Be confident, but without arrogance. How you say things is important, so think before you speak.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at