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Making an early start

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It is important to make a good impression on the first day in a new job. But arriving early can be just as important.

Colin Wheeler remembers a true story that can be taken as good advice to all new starters, but which can also act as a warning to the complacent.

I recall being told about the newly appointed railway divisional boss who had lodged locally near his new office and was expected to begin his first day by arriving at around nine in the morning.

Instead, he arrived at the office doors a little before 7am. The office messenger arrived, having collected the morning post, a few minutes later. He accepted the assurance that the man was “due to start work in the office but was early” at face value.

The new man offered to help unlocking the building and with sorting and delivering the mail around the offices. With a little prompting as they worked together, the messenger explained to the newcomer what each of the sections did, who was likely to arrive first and who he found best and easiest to do work for.

The office, the new boss had been warned, was not working well and “had its problems”.

An hour or more later, he thanked his confidant and, having admitted who he was (and shown proof thereof), he moved into his personal office, asking his confidant to say nothing as he thanked him profusely for their time together.

This gave the talented new boss a great start in his new job, in which he was most successful.

From this beginning, the individual went on to establish a good rapport with local engineers, supervisors, and indeed all staff, both outside and in the offices, before being promoted further.

He also earned the respect and commitment of trades unions and safety representatives.

Report by Colin Wheeler