Nowadays, companies invest a lot of time and energy into “onboarding,” the process wherein they acclimate new employees and get them up to speed on policies, culture, and more. Even so, the first days, weeks, and even months at any new gig can be extremely stressful. In a terrific piece titled “8 Vital Tips For Starting a New Job,” career columnist Beverly Johnson shares some advice for overcoming the jitters and growing pains associated with being the new kid on the block. Read on for a summary.

1. Figure Out What the Boss Wants — In the beginning, you’ll of course want to ask what’s expected of you, but that’s not enough. As Jones writes, you’ll need to observe the ways in which your manager sends information up the chain and consider how you both fit into the overall company structure. Get a sense of the big picture, in other words, and what role you’re expected to play.

2. Meet the Team — Knowing the technical ins and outs of a job is one thing, but as Jones points out, it’s also vital to understand company culture and get to know colleagues, clients, and the like.

3. Learn, Listen, Repeat — In the beginning, don’t talk a lot about yourself. Whether you’re in a meeting or making the acquaintance of people in your row, ask questions and genuinely listen to what people have to say. Also — and this is a great tip — resist the urge to take sides in disputes you know nothing about. Stay neutral — at least at first.

4. Establish Goals for the Short Term — The key here is “realistic objectives,” as Jones says. As you begin to get acclimated, set achievable benchmarks that will get you moving down the right path.

5. Follow Through on Promises — The worst thing you can do is make people think you’re a flake. Prove you’re a reliable employee by doing what you say you will. If you tell the boss you’ll make a call or send an email right away, do it.

6. Be Punctual — This doesn’t just mean showing up on time for work. Make sure you’re never late for meetings or appointments. Tardiness signals a lack of enthusiasm.

7. Reassess Your Attitude — With most jobs, Jones writes, there’s a “honeymoon” period that tends to end after you’ve been there for a bit, and the excitement has worn off. At this point, you’ve got to decide whether you can “focus on the positive aspects of your situation and commit yourself to doing what it takes to reach your goals,” Jones writes.

8. Manage Your Stress — Meeting new people and taking on new responsibilities will invariably lead to stress. Be sure you’re combatting the pressure by eating right and exercising regularly. As Jones says, you may feel there’s no time for working out, but there’s always time for things that are important, and this is essential. “The time you spend on keeping your cool and boosting your energy is an investment in success,” she writes.