Being the new kid on the block is never easy. As if there wasn't enough pressure placed on fitting in socially, when you're starting a new job, you also have the professional adjustments to consider. You want your co-workers to accept you as part of the team, your superiors to respect you and not regret hiring you, and you want to learn how to excel at an entirely different job — all while trying to play it cool and pretend like you know what the heck you're doing when you definitely just don't — yet.
It's important to remember that everyone was new once. Switching into anything different requires patience and an understanding that it's a transition, which is a process, which takes time. You were hired for a reason, after all, so own it. Make the most of this time and take on the full opportunity to learn and throw yourself into it all. It's true — Some people are better at tackling the new and unknown than others, but despite all that, there are hacks that can certainly work for everyone. In fact, here are 10 ways that can make adjusting to that new job way easier and just in time for happy hour.
1. Get To Know Your Co-Workers Early On
As tempting as it may first seem, don't be that guy or girl eating lunch at their desk the first few weeks. Even if you identify as a total introvert, make an effort to push yourself to reach out to your colleagues. They won't bite, at least not at the expense of racking up some major HR violations, so there's always that. You'll make an overall better first impression and people will be more willing to approach you and include you without it being awkward moving forward. There's a limited amount of time to play the new kid card, so use it well within that early timeframe to really get to know people.
After all, these are the people you'll be spending eight or so hours of your day with and it'll make your transition and your time there all the more enjoyable. And of course, you don't have to be super chummy or anything, but as Alison Green pointed out for U.S. News Money, your co-workers can provide insight on things like where to go to lunch, what things matter most to your boss, and who's the best person in accounting to help you with payroll issues.
2. Observe The Culture
Along with making nice with your colleagues, try to get a solid gauge on the company culture. Of course, we've been told all our lives that we shouldn't strive to fit in, and by all means, be yourself, but it's always good to be conscious of how well you can adapt to any professional environment. Because let's be real, you need to know how to play the game in order to succeed. As Green wrote, consider factors such as whether or not people are meticulously punctual; communicate via email, phone or in person more; socialize or stay more focused during the day, adhere to the nine-five or actually work different hours, etc. The quicker you pick up on these company characteristics, the easier it'll be for you to produce good work because of how comfortable and familiar you'll already be with the groove of things.
3. Seize Every Opportunity To Learn
It's important to go into your new role with an open and eager mind to soak in as much as you can. Jump into the unfamiliar tasks, volunteer whenever needed, and really make an effort to learn the ins and outs so you quickly move from newbie status to the person who gets shit done. Forbes offered up some great advice from Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, who aptly described the first three months at a job as "fraught with peril and loaded with opportunity."
Watkins also said it's also important to learn the strategy that the company uses to approach challenges, because not all organizations have the same problems or the same solutions to those problems. And the only way you'll get a true feel for it is by listening, understanding, and jumping into it hands-on. Who cares if you mess something up? This is the grace period and the perfect time to do so.
4. Be On Your Game, But Take It Easy
That being said, while it's good to be on top of your game earlier on to get in the swing of things and show that you mean business, you don't want to push yourself too hard and burn out. If you're spread too thin and run out of steam, apart from not helping yourself at all, you won't be able to contribute very positively with such little bandwidth. I remember an instance at one of my previous internships — so, mind you, it wasn't even a job — when I was so determined to impress everyone and prove myself, I offered to take on almost every task I could — even those well beyond working hours. Because I didn't know how to effectively divide my time and energy, probably because I didn't really have any at that point anyway, I obviously didn't get much done and I was exhausted. So be sure to keep a healthy balance and be honest about what you're able to take on.
5. Ask For Help
Don't be afraid to ask questions! This is another one of those major freebies granted to you on your new kid card. And that's not to say that it's only OK to ask questions when you're new. It's always acceptable to ask questions because it shows that you're thinking and quite simply, that you care to know. Don't worry about coming across as annoying, or thinking you'll be judged for something you may think is completely trivial in others' eyes.
People will appreciate that you're taking the initiative to make sure you have a full understanding of what's expected of you and what needs to get done. It's so much better to get a firm grasp on things now, rather than mess it all up with a silly mistake later on.
6. Don't Compare It To Past Work Experiences
While a lot of your past experiences surely informed who you've become, what you're able to do, and how you got to where you are, channel those experiences into your new role rather than making constant comparisons. Because this new job is where you are now. Being fully present for whatever scope of work is on your plate will be so much more beneficial than constantly seizing up how you did things at a certain place. That'll ensure the quickest possible transition into this new environment.
7. Ask For Feedback
Asking for feedback can definitely be scary, but it's good to check in and get some constructive criticism on how you're doing. Not only does this show others how gutsy you are and that you care about what you're doing and how you're doing it, but you'll probably be receiving the best possible advice you can get at the best time. This pretty much gives you a headstart on learning everything the right way, and saves you the uncomfortable conversations down the road if unresolved issues of things you may not have been doing exactly right begin to bubble up. So save yourself the trouble.
8. Outline Your Goals And Strategize
Do it for yourself, discuss it with your boss, and even with your colleagues. This is a great way to set up a nice plan for yourself that will keep you motivated and positively focused on working toward something you're more likely to accomplish. Really identify what you want out of this experience and how you want to contribute your talents and efforts. This will help you get the ball rolling and keep track of what you want to do, how you're doing it, and why it is or isn't working to make the most out of your experience. eHow suggested some great ways to set goals for your new position by identifying factors such as whether or not this is a stepping stone to a greater opportunity, or if you plan on staying a longer time to help inform long-term and short-term goals.
9. Don't Fall Into Office Politics
As the newbie, you want to avoid being lured into the trap of petty rivalries you don't even understand, just for the sake of being accepted. Unfortunately, as mature and above the petty peasantry of cliques and unwritten rules as we'd like to think the good ole grown-up world is, it's a subtle reincarnation of high school for sure. We like and dislike people and rifts commonly occur, especially after an extended period of time in one place with respective differences. And of course people want you on their team. But that's history you don't want to tamper with because you really have nothing to do with it. So keep that slate clean and the positive office vibes flowing as best you can. You'll be doing yourself, and everyone else a favor.
10. Give It Time
Reeling it all in full circle here, at the end of the day, never forget that these things take time, above all else. Try to look at that big picture.
When you make a goal to appreciate the little wins of each day, there will always be some sort of progress, so stay positive and keep at it.
Images: Giphy (10); Pexels