Career Roundtable: Getting in the Groove and Fitting in at Your New Job

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CareerA new job not only means a new place of employment, it also means new settings, new co-workers, a new boss, and a new set of responsibilities. This can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. Instead of being stressed out, embrace the new experience.

“Everyone had a first day at your workplace. You are not the first or the last,” workplace culture consultant Steve Langerud points out. “So enjoy it! It can be fun to be the new person.”

If you are feeling uncomfortable, address this feeling right away. “First, identify what is making you feel uncomfortable. Decide if it is
your nerves or if there is something in particular making you feel
uncomfortable. If it is work-related, keep a list, so you can discuss
any concerns with your supervisor when the time is right,” says Truitt.
First, identify what is making you feel uncomfortable. Decide if it is your nerves or if there is something in particular making you feel uncomfortable. If it is work-related, keep a list, so you can discuss any concerns with your supervisor when the time is right,” says Janine N. Truitt, Chief Innovations Officer at Talent Think Innovations.

If it’s just nerves, you can tackle this. “To overcome the new job jitters, be sure to take your lunch and any breaks offered. You have plenty of time in the future to be overly busy and tied to your desk. Starting a new job is both exhilarating and stressful. Allow yourself the time to process all of the new learning; as well as the adjustment to your new colleagues and environment. Take moments to recharge, so you can make the best impression in your first days of working,” suggests Truitt.

Here are a few tips on how to fit in:

–Come in with a positive attitude
. “Be friendly! Say hello. Smile,” says Langerud. “Tell people you are new and introduce yourself. This is a great opener for all us introverts.”

Adds Keith Rollag, an Associate Professor of Management and Chair of the Management Division at Babson College and author of  “What To Do When You’re New: How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations,” “Over half the people I’ve interviewed have not been fully satisfied with the number and quality of introductions they get from their boss. The most successful newcomers overcome their reluctance to approach strangers and recognize that as a new employee they have the implicit justification and expectation to introduce themselves to just about anyone. Practice your opening lines, look for opportunities, and go for it.”

–Learn more about the place and the people.
“Be interested and not interesting. Ask people about themselves, their work, the organization and the community. You will have plenty of time to tell your story, too,” says Langerud.

–Get to know co-workers through social interaction.
“Use select social activities, coffee or lunch, to get to know people and the organization. You can always expand as true friendships develop,” notes Langerud. “Accept invitations. When others invite, say yes.”

But do some observation first before handing out lunch invites. “It’s important to observe the dynamics of the group and office before you start socializing with colleagues outside of the office. You don’t want to get too familiar and friendly with colleagues until you understand how they operate in the office environment. If you’re invited out by one of your colleagues, I would advise attending to build further rapport with your team; but even then you should be observing behaviors,” offers Truitt.


–Don’t forget your new colleagues.
“Newcomers can make really positive first (and second) impressions if they can quickly learn and remember the names of their new co-workers,” says Rollag. “When you’re introduced, ask people to repeat their names so you get them into your short-term memory, and then write their names down as soon as you can after the introduction. Then take the time to learn and test yourself on their names and faces so you’re confident you can recall their name the next time you see them.”

–Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“Unfortunately, many newcomers are reluctant to approach new colleagues and ask questions because they either don’t want to bother busy people, or fear making a bad first impression. The key is to recognize that the social risk of asking a ‘dumb’ question is almost always less than one thinks, and if a quick Internet search doesn’t reveal an obvious answer then it’s probably not a ‘dumb’ question anyway,” Rollag points out. “Most co-workers expect new people to ask questions, so don’t waste more time worrying about asking a question – just find someone that may know the answer (or likely knows someone who does) and ask the question. When you’re new, try to find (or ask for) a buddy who can be someone to whom you can quickly and easily ask your newbie questions.”

“Making the transition to a new workplace can be done well. Make the effort to make it smooth and successful,” says Langerud.

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