Making The Coffee – Building A Positive Workplace Reputation

When people ask me for the best quick tip I have for their new job or workplace my answer is always the same (no matter what the field). Get there first in the morning and make the office coffee. This may sound ridiculously simple and trivial, but trust me, it is invaluable to a new worker, especially if you are young. I got this tip driven home when I started my first university summer job when I was 18. I had just gotten done with my first two semesters of university, trained for three weeks, and I was posted at a rural border crossing and was responsible for enforcing laws and determining if people should be allowed into Canada. Needless to say, I was nervous and a little overwhelmed. When I walked into the doors there was a gruff, obviously veteran Border Officer on duty. We introduced ourselves and he said, “Son, you know how to make coffee?” I replied that I didn’t, and he grunted as he led the way to the staff room. After he showed me the intricate process, he explained in no uncertain terms that it would be a good idea if I got real efficient at doing this and made sure to do it everyday. Plainly I took this advice and got along with my fellow officers quite well the next few summers.

Its A Little Crazy, But Making The Coffee In The Morning Was The Best Career Advice I Received

Building A Positive Workplace Reputation
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I have since used this little nugget of advice to subtly build up a store of goodwill in every workplace I have been. Since I have been the youngest worker at most of the places I have been employed, I have found it is beneficial to immediately communicate to everyone that you are NOT the stereotypical cocky, know-it-all ‘young hotshot.’ Instead, you want to convey a humble, eager-to-please persona. By making sure that I get to the job site first in the morning and making the coffee I am showing that I am willing to do some of the little things to gain acceptance and trust. It sounds so ridiculously simple, yet I cannot tell you how many times it has been specifically commented on.

There are other parts of my jobs I have put substantially more work into, and these areas sometimes never get noticed, but the coffee pot always does. I have always been a morning person and so I would use this extra time in the morning to prepare for the day and organize myself. I often do this in the vicinity of the coffee maker just so the connection is made that I was responsible for making the coffee without actually being so awkward as to point it out. If you do it consistently, I guarantee you will soon get a good reputation in the office an/or staff room. The reason this little relationship-building exercise is so important is because at your new job you will depend on your co-workers. You want your first impression to be a good one, and you want them to connect with you in a positive manner right away. Reputations in the workplace have a way of gaining momentum one way or the other, so make sure that yours snowballs in the right direction. Your new co-workers at any job can ease the transition greatly, or make your life a living hell, depending on what they initially think of you. You want to immediately establish good lines of communication with as many people as you can so that they can pass along vital information that will help you.

Making The Coffee Will Put You In Your Co-Workers “Good Books”

A perfect example of this is my working relationship with the secretary at the school I teach at. By simply having coffee made everyday when she comes in and pouring her a cup, I erase any ill will she might have towards me because I make more money than her even though she has been in the workforce a much longer time. If there is one person you really want ‘on your side’ in any workplace, it is definitely the secretary. She is the nerve center of what is going on and handles all of the most important information every day. She has covered for me on so many occasions I have lost count. As a bonus, she has communicated her high opinion of me to a lot of people in the school and community and so now I have a leg up on getting a great first impression with others as well.

Who would have thought that Java was so important to your career path? I should really go back and thank the gruff Border Officer, even though I’m pretty sure he had no idea the value of the tip he was giving me at the time.

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13 years ago

Great mentality, MUM :) I am not a morning person and I get into work on time but no earlier. That is a great idea, to show colleagues that we’re not the typical “I think I’m all that and a bag of chips because I am of the Generation Y” crowd. I definitely agree that getting to know the secretary is the key to the office. When I first got hired, I came back from a trip to Peru. The secretary had mentioned that she seemed fascinated with Peru, and I got her a small choker/necklace. She was so pleased… Read more »

13 years ago

I work in the very male dominated field of programming and software development. I like to bake cookies or snacks once in a while and bring it in the work. The boys love it! It definitely softens them up for the times when I need to ask for assistance. :)

I completely agree that when you are young, new, and needing to rely on other people’s help and goodwill, doing the little things will make people think more positively of you.

13 years ago

Ha! I like this advice. Doesn’t apply to me as a) I don’t drink coffee and b) I don’t work the early shift (not in a 9-5 industry at all) but definitely get the gist.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
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