Written by Diane Davy
It’s September, the time of year I always equate with getting back to business after the long, lazy days of summer. It is the time of year when many people are starting new jobs and so we thought we would share the results of a recent Work in Culture poll — challenges when starting a new job — and offer some tips on how to deal with them.
First on the list was dealing with interpersonal relationships. How do you adapt to a new team dynamic and company culture?
Start with the positive — they hired you so they already think you are a good fit! In all probability, some of the people you will be working with most closely were part of the hiring decision and will be involved in helping integrate you into the company. Tell them how happy you are to be part of the team, and ask who you should go to with questions. Listen a lot but also ask when you need clarification – do not pretend you understand something if you do not.
The second top concern was prioritizing what you should focus on first. It’s hard to juggle new responsibilities while learning unfamiliar processes, procedures and technologies. Where do you start?
People generally have a fairly clearly defined need when they hire someone new — so first thing to do is ask the question “What are the organization’s priorities and how do I best contribute?” Be prepared, while you are learning the ropes, to put in some extra time and effort if you need to — and tell whoever you report to and/or your team you are willing. See if you can identify an internal mentor or mentors who can help you — it might be your boss or a colleague. If someone is particularly supportive, remember to thank them (a coffee is always appreciated!).
The third challenge was striking the right balance. You may have lot of ideas but don’t want to come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.
Start by spending some time listening and observing. That said, you don’t want to seem like a bump on a log. After all, they hired you for your skills and knowledge. Sometimes how you offer input can make all the difference. Consider phrasing suggestions in ways that emphasize that they are just that — suggestions. For example, you might say “You may have tried this approach but, if not, I have found that XYZ has worked for me,” rather than something like “This is the right way to do it.” On the other hand, if you have skills that others don’t, be generous in sharing. Nothing endears you to someone like helping them out.
Remember, every new experience requires a learning curve and employers understand that. In my experience, the first three months are the hardest. Get through those and you will be a full-fledged member of the team.