Author: Kim Zastrow

A new job can be like traveling to a foreign country. It will be exciting to learn and see new things along the way, but it can also be nerve-racking to try to navigate through new territory and to understand a different language, so to speak. Your new job environment might be similar to a former job, or it may be completely different. Just like in a foreign country, you’ll have to learn to adjust to survive. This might be more than just adapting to a new work schedule, but it may also include learning the cultural norms of your new job environment and adapting to new coworkers. By applying these recommendations, you’ll integrate into your new environment faster, be a more valuable employee, and feel a greater sense of belonging.

To start, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Park your ego at the door, and learn all you can about your new position. This shows others around you that you value their experience, and they’ll respect you for taking time to understand how things work.  Ask for feedback about your job performance. Even if some of what you hear may not be pleasant, it’s better to know what’s expected early on.  Admitting your lack of knowledge about something actually demonstrates your willingness to learn. This being said, although people don’t mind answering questions, they also don’t want to repeat themselves over and over again. Especially in the first week you are going to have lots of information being given to you, so stay organized and write down as much as you can. There’s nothing wrong with keeping simple notes to review later. The more quickly you learn, the more at ease you will feel.

Secondly, take the initiative to meet people and to introduce yourself to others. People don’t always have time to come meet the new face at the office. Although it may seem awkward at first to introduce yourself to others, it will have the rewarding effect in the end of growing your network. Your network will prove to be essential to your success at your new job. Achieving results often depends on reaching out to someone who has the insight, interest, or time to help you. This means you have to find out who is willing to share their expertise in order to help you adapt to the new work environment. What if you’re more introverted by nature? It’s difficult to reach out in an environment that’s outside your comfort zone. Augustine, who works for a hiring agency, recommends “start with the group that’s closest to you.” Then after you get to know them, it will gradually lead you to meeting more people.

Along with this, get to know the company culture. Just like visiting a foreign country, becoming familiar with the local culture will help you settle in faster. There may be some “unwritten rules” that you can only know by being observant, so use the first few weeks to absorb what goes on around you. Take notice of how your coworkers interact with each other, with customers, and with the community. Business Insider writes, “in many instances the culture will stem from an organization’s origins.” In every business there will be key decision makers or team leaders; learn how they develop and implement decisions. Remember the goal is to be able to contribute to your new job as best as you can; by learning and adapting to the culture, you will be able to better perform your job.

This new environment means things are going to be done differently than at past jobs. So you must learn to be open to new experiences. Take for an example a woman named Linda who just started a new job in a financial office. Although she has previous experience in this field, she learns within the first few days that her new team strategizes in a way that she does not view to be as efficient. She could try to fight to do things her way and prove that her way is better. Or, she could try to learn more about the team’s results before she tries to advance a change. What Linda may not realize is that the team has already tried other strategies and found them to be ineffective.  So, as the new hire, you should your best attempt to try and implement the new way or idea. When you understand the new company and their ways, you’ll know which battles are worth fighting before you exhaust yourself trying to do things your own way or give up altogether.

Remember, everyone has been that “new guy” before, it just takes a little time to adjust. So take the time to ask questions and learn the company culture. Even if it may not be your way of doing things, don’t be afraid to try out a new approach to something. The more you learn and meet new people the more successful you will be at your new job. Before long you will be adapted to your new work environment and feeling like someone who has been there permanently!

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