So You’re New on the Job

Many of us have learned, the hard way, that there are some things to do and other things to avoid doing during the first days on a new job. Often our future with an organization is based on those first few weeks or months of employment. If this is true, how can we use this crucial breaking-in period to our benefit?

Here are seven keys to success on that new job:

Know as much as you can about the job before you start. Too often we find out, after the fact, that it is hard to accept the job for what it is, rather than for what we thought it would be.

The best remedy for this is to learn as much as you can about the job ahead of time. You may want to talk informally with other workers or the supervisor to learn what you will be expected to do, how the supervisor manages people, and what the other workers are like.

Make a special effort to establish good working relationships. The single most frequent cause of disenchantment or early dismissal is the inability to relate to co-workers or the boss. Leaving a job early or being fired usually has little to do with job skills or learning ability. Most frequently it is because people can’t get along with each other, and this interferes with the work.

Mike, a construction worker, didn’t like his boss’s sarcasm. Realizing how easily he might become upset and angry with his boss, he talked to a friend who owned his own construction company. The friend shared with him some of his experiences as a supervisor. He said that sometimes things look different from the boss’s perspective. They talked about possible solutions.

Mike decided to talk with his boss for a few moments after work, telling him of his feelings in an attempt to resolve the problem.

Orient your perspective towards the goals of the employer. Ask yourself, “What is important to my supervisor?” “What are his or her priorities, goals, ways he or she likes to do things?” and “How can I help?” Try to understand how he or she sees things.

Keep your personal and job goals and values clearly in mind. What would you like to have contributed, learned, or accomplished in five years, two years, one year? How do you plan to do it? What is important to you—honesty, loyalty? What choice might you make in a compromising situation? If the supervisor asks you to falsify information, what will you do? Knowing your values before something like this happens is best. A person who has clearly defined his or her goals and values is solidly grounded and naturally engenders respect from others.

Become known as one who can be trusted and one who is dedicated to the job. Negative comments about co-workers, the supervisor, or the organization are never appropriate. It is important that you be true to yourself and to the supervisor.

Being true to yourself may mean bringing up a problem with the boss, rather than talking about it behind his or her back.

Seek a mentor. Find a person who has gone through an experience similar to yours and who is not in the same company, or at least not one of your supervisors or co-workers. Talk things over with him or her. Perhaps he can give you needed insights and let you get your ideas, feelings, and frustrations out. Often you don’t need advice as much as you need someone to listen.

Keep a balance in your life. You may make mistakes as you begin that new job. Because you are new, you lack information and experience. But being overly critical of yourself is destructive. Keeping things in perspective comes from sharing information and keeping a balance in your life. Balance comes from planning for church activities, recreation, hobbies, family time, vacations, reading, and making new friends. C. Susan Jones, former career development counselor, Brigham Young University

Bacon, Eggs, and Family Togetherness

When I was young, my family always had breakfast together. Many years after I became a parent, I decided to continue the tradition. We saw certain changes almost immediately. As a family, we seemed more interested in each other. I liked the improvement and added some traditions of my own. We moved family prayer from the front room to the kitchen table. We gave a quick spiritual thought each morning to the children, and we gave the children a daily vocabulary word. It takes determination to pull seven independent personalities around one table, but there are many benefits this family activity can offer; let me mention five:

1. During breakfast the family can hold a mini family council each day. We have a weekly planning session, but often these plans become obsolete by Tuesday night. So at breakfast I ask, “Are there any new planned activities tonight of which I am unaware?” Then we plan the day with everyone knowing the schedule.

2. Breakfast time offers a great opportunity to teach and train children. It is amazing what young minds can absorb even in a short period of time. The other day, I asked our ten-year-old daughter to explain the difference between an ordinance and a principle. She did a good job. One day while swimming, Steven, our four-year-old, yelled to me, “Did you hear that word, diminutive? That’s one of the words we had. It means small, like me!”

3. Breakfast time is a great time to learn of special needs. Children’s moods change quickly and special needs can arise instantaneously. Not making the basketball squad is monumental at sixteen years of age. Breakfast gives me time to find out how the child is handling the experience. Then we can talk about it.

4. Breakfast is also a good time to leave children with positive feelings for the coming day. As a parent, I have found that adolescence can be a time of depression, making children more susceptible to peer pressure. For one half hour each morning, our children can learn, laugh, and be encouraged while they eat. This provides a happy basis for the day.

5. One of the most important parts of breakfast time is the prayer period. As a family, we can take time to kneel and thank the Lord for the blessings we enjoy. It is good for the children to hear the humble pleadings of parents in their behalf. Children need to feel the spiritual concern and know the importance of praying for specific things and loved ones. Often, I feel that our family’s protection from the ills of society is proportionate to the spirituality generated at this time.

Parents can gain great blessings by gathering their children around at meal time. It is a natural time to bring families together and help them become closer, both emotionally and spiritually. K. Dean Black, Counselor, LDS Social Services, Tucker, Georgia

Remembering the Sabbath on Vacations

Our children loaded their Sunday clothes and grocery sacks full of dress shoes into our van. We were in our final preparations for our family vacation, and we wanted to make sure we brought our religion along.

Our family trips have taken us many places, including Hawaii and Europe. As we began to formulate our vacation plans as a young family, we realized that to skip our meetings while on vacation might teach our children that we keep the Sabbath day holy only when it is convenient. We also did not want to miss out on the spirit gained through attending church.

We have found that finding the meetinghouse during vacation times has been a relatively easy task. Often the wards are listed in a local telephone directory. An early morning telephone call on a Sunday can usually find a clerk or someone in the building who can tell you the meeting schedule.

Even in places where the Church is relatively new, finding the building and meeting schedule is only a little more difficult. A well-planned itinerary and a check with our bishop is usually enough to help us find meetinghouse addresses ahead of time.

In spite of the seeming inconveniences of packing extra clothes and finding a chapel, we have discovered that attending church away from home can be a rich experience. Our self-confidence has increased with our ability to meet new people and to express love for our brothers and sisters in the gospel. No matter where we have gone, we have felt welcome, even in places where the members did not speak our language. Often they have provided interpreters for us.

We also enjoy seeing the gospel operate in different cultural settings. After a meeting in Hawaii, a young girl who was leaving to attend school on the mainland was called to the front of the chapel. True to Hawaiian tradition, the ward members sang “Aloha Oe” while piling leis around her neck and kissing her cheek. It was a beautiful expression of love, one we would have missed had we not attended church that day.

Attending new wards is a good time to explore new ideas concerning a Church calling. Many times I have sought out the person in the ward we are visiting who holds the same position that I have. We discuss common problems and ways we try to solve them. Sometimes I get new insights into my calling and ways I can magnify it.

Along with attending church, we try to keep our Sabbath days away from home holy. Visiting Church historical sites and visitors’ centers has helped us improve our knowledge of the gospel and Church history. If there are no Church landmarks in the area, we sometimes visit cathedrals and other religious landmarks. We use the time to explore ideas and to learn more about other religions and peoples.

Writing letters or postcards home is another appropriate Sunday activity, as is reading a good book or writing in a journal.

Although your vacation package may not include a trip to a storybook castle or an island paradise, it can include the gospel. We have found that packing our religion and living it while on a vacation is as vital as living it at home. Ardean T. Loertscher, Salt Lake City, Utah

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Knudsen