Excel as the New Guy on the Job

Being the office newbie can be tough! Recent employment trends showing an improvement in the unemployment rate in combination with workers getting frustrated in their current job situations might mean the start of a new job for many of us in the near future. After spending so much time and effort in securing a new position, how can we ensure start off on the right foot?

First, make a mental shift in how you approach the situation. Realize it’s your responsibility to acclimate to a new environment. Though many companies will offer orientations, accelerated networking, and other introductory perks, the onus is on the newcomer to absorb the new culture, learn the written and unspoken rules, and ask questions.

Have you ever been the new kid at school? How did your classmates react? Most likely, there were pre-existing cliques, a common language, and most of the kids were reluctant to reach out to get to know the new guy. Both kids and adults generally dislike change, especially when things are working great as is.

While it is certainly nice when someone from the existing team steps up to take the leadership role to reach out to the new guy, by no means should this be expected. If you expect all your new co-workers to welcome you with open arms you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Realize that there will be some people who are so resistant to change they may even actively dislike you before getting to know you!

For a smooth transition, consider these guidelines:

  • Listen and Do before you Opinionate and Change – Things are the way they are for a reason. Take the time to learn what those reasons are before making changes. Even if you enter as a new boss who is expected to make changes, learning about former processes can help make your new changes successful and accepted.
  • Be Likeable – Do you know any people that seem to be liked by everyone and always make a good impression? The fact is that first impressions matter more. For the first few days, go out of your way to do the little things that enhance your likeability: smile more often, ask people about themselves, act as if you were already friends, ask for help, and ask others’ for their opinion.
  • Keep A List of Questions – Your first day will most likely be confusing and overwhelming, so to keep yourself sane, write down all your questions. Some you’ll be able to find answers to yourself and others you’ll have to ask others. The benefits of keeping such a list are that you’ll more easily remember what to ask when the opportunity arises and a nice rolling list of things you already know that make you feel like you are making progress.
  • Give Yourself Deadlines – You can’t consider yourself the new guy forever and after a certain time period, it just becomes an excuse. It becomes a convenient excuse for why you haven’t gotten to know your co-workers personally, an excuse for why you haven’t launched a new initiative, and for why you don’t have an internal network. Instead, start your new job with a private timeline of what you want to accomplish by when.

 

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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