Joyel Crawford, Fairygodmentor, Ask Your Fairygodmentor, Column

Ask Your Fairygodmentor®: How To Make A Great First Impression Without Burning Yourself Out In The Process

It’s really exciting and overwhelming to start a new job. You want to ensure you’re bringing your best but not overdoing it and burning yourself out.

Reader’s Question:

Hey Joyel, as someone who’s just joined a new team, I really want to make a great impression by going above and beyond. But I’m also worried about burning out. How can I show my dedication without getting overwhelmed and stressed? Looking for some solid advice on finding that sweet spot.


New Job Who Dis

Dear New Job,

Congratulations! It’s really exciting and overwhelming to start a new job. You want to ensure you’re bringing your best to the organization each day but can also be going so above and beyond that you may overdo it and burn yourself out. Kudos for this self-awareness!

Indulge me a moment for a little story. I recall one of the new jobs I’d taken on where I would work several hours after everyone had gone home for the evening. It got to the point where I’d work so late that the cleaning crew left before me!  My cubicle was on the way out of the office and I wanted each team member to leave the office seeing me working past regular business hours. My working late amplified my dedication to the job or so I thought. 

One particular evening, one of the most senior members of the executive team was on his way out.  He always stopped by my cubicle to say goodnight.  This time he looked at his watch and looked at me and said something that stuck with me for life.

“Be careful of the story you’re writing, because folks will begin to expect you to be here this late regularly.”

Creating boundaries is necessary. You teach people how you want to be treated, especially when you’re starting a new job.  How late you work, how much you  take onto your plate beyond your capabilities, and not speaking up when things aren’t going quite right all add up.  If you continue to let things slide people will assume that you’re ok with things the way they are when you really are not. 

Set expectations that meet reality from the get go. Bring your resume and that interview energy to your first meeting with your manager to discuss performance objectives and expectations.

Reiterate your passion for the role, discuss your communication styles, discover the chain of command in decision making, ask questions about the role and job expectations that need clarification, discuss your own work performance objectives and expectations of your manager.

You may try saying, “In order for me to be the most successful player on your team, I’d like to understand what your expectations are of me and I’d like to share with you what helps me be most productive and successful in meeting those goals and expectations.”  

Discuss your schedule and any accommodations that you may need to ensure that you are self-advocating for your commitments. 

If you have a habit of losing focus or get nervous, use a script. Write up a quick list of bullet points to keep your conversation on track.  Take notes of the conversation, ask questions to check for understanding and send a summary of talking points to your manager (keep those receipts!). Never leave that conversation until everything you wanted to discuss is clearly understood by both parties. 

While you’re at it, make sure to get a standing one-on-one meeting set up with your manager so you can continue to work together to ensure that you’re on track performance and career wise.  Remember, you drive your career. Your manager is your GPS to help you calculate your route. Only you know the address. It’s up to you to coach upward to help others know where you want to go. If you have questions about career or leadership ask here. 

Congrats again! You got this!


Your Fairygodmentor®

Joyel Crawford, Fairygodmentor, Ask Your Fairygodmentor, Column
Image: Kirsten White Photograph

Joyel Crawford of Crawford Leadership Strategies grows leaders for a living. Joyel hosts a podcast called     Career View Mirror®. She also holds PHR, DISC, and Birkman Assessment certifications. She’s a member of  SHRM, the National Black MBA Association, and a legislative advocate for NAAF. Her career advice is featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Essence, Newsweek, and many more outlets.