By Matt Breit, Project Manager with Nexus 5 Group
At some point in our career, we've all been the newbie at work. Whether it’s at the beginning of your career, or you're a seasoned veteran exploring a new opportunity, you may find yourself in a position where you are branching outside your comfort zone in an entirely new atmosphere. This can be every bit as intimidating, overwhelming and stressful as it is exciting for many.
As I approach my one year work anniversary at Nexus 5 Group, I wanted to take a little time to reflect on my transition period with the hopes of offering some solid advice for the next round of “newbies” as we continue our exciting growth. Technically, I'm still the resident newbie here a Nexus 5 Group, but I know it's won't be long before I will pass the torch. And I will be helping mentor that next generation of employees.
Here are four tips to help you hit the ground running in your new and exciting role and the next chapter in your career:
Be Open and Inquisitive
Congratulations! So you've accepted your new position and the celebratory phase wears off as you approach your first day at work. And hats off to you because you've already displayed the openness to start a new journey and completed the research and due diligence necessary to make the opportunity come to life. But this is just the beginning.
Get used to being outside of your comfort zone. Not only as you adjust to your new company and role, being open and inquisitive are two invaluable traits that you should carry with you throughout your career. Be open to new experiences, new processes, new people, and a new mindset.
I’m not saying to forget all of your past experiences, but at least for the first few months try to avoid bringing the way you used to do things at “XYZ Company” or offering your idea of how things should be done before you are more familiar with your surroundings. Also, try to avoid telling too many stories of past experiences at your old company. Be focused on how things are being done at your new company. You're not at your old company for a reason... Their way of doing things might be the reason you're working for a new company. So instead of being a know it all, be open to personal growth and take it all in. Ask questions, take notes, and do your own research.
Immerse Yourself in the Company Culture
Most companies have some sort of onboarding program for new hires. Your company may provide an employee handbook or offer training courses on company procedure. Obviously, this is important stuff to take in, but pay close attention to actual company culture. I'm talking about the verbal and non-verbal cues from the rest of your team during daily operations. These are often not specifically written in the mission statement or core values and include things like:
Dress code - Most likely this will be addressed in your employee handbook, but sometimes there's a gap between what is written and how people actually dress. If in doubt just ask, and worst case err on the side of being overdressed and then tone it down over time if need be.
Lunch - Does everyone bring a sack lunch from home? Do they typically go out to lunch? Do they try to take clients/customers to lunch? Do they eat alone at their desk or do they congregate in a central area?
Attitude/Mindset - Is the atmosphere formal, focused, and quiet? Or is it informal, laid-back, and lively? What can you do to fit in?
Work Hours - Depending on your role, you may be salaried or hourly, and this will likely be addressed in onboarding. Salaried positions can sometimes be vague and/or flexible on work hours, meaning as long as the work gets done and you meet deadlines, you can set your own schedule. If this is the case, take note of what others are doing. Do they answer emails and work from home in the off hours? Do they work on the weekends even if it's not technically required?
Build Your Network
With your new role, the biggest obstacle is building, or rather re-building, your network of relationships. You will most likely be able to bring a large portion of your contact list with you as you begin your new journey, but you will certainly be adding to it across your entire career. Be proactive about meeting your co-workers, superiors, clients, and business partners. Get to as many networking events as you can. Don't be afraid to introduce yourself, even if someone misses the cue to make introductions.
Set up morning coffee meetings or lunches. This is often a good ice breaker to get to know someone outside of the work environment. Also, be intentional about who you ask and consider trying to get both group and one-on-one lunches planned. (Just remember that a one-on-one lunch will allow for a more open conversation as opposed to a group setting.)
Also, take business cards with you everywhere you go! That should be a given, but we all forget to do this at times. Additionally, get in the habit of starting an organized contact list and be diligent about continually adding to it.
Inevitably, the constant effort of proving yourself is sure to stay with you until you feel like you're a contributing member of the group. And ultimately, the goal is to prove yourself, and I am confident you will. But it's equally important to be yourself.
It's human nature to put up a front when subjected to new people and a new environment. But you do run the risk of portraying yourself as someone you're not. Make a conscience effort to be professional while at the same time being who you are. Open up with people on a personal basis. It's even okay to be vulnerable at times. You will wind up spending more time with the people you work with than your own family, and they will get to know the real you eventually. So you might as well show the real you from the beginning. After all, it’s the real you they hired, and the real you will succeed in your new role.
In closing, I hope this article provided some helpful insight for any new job situation. We've all been there. And who knows? We might be there again at some point. What other strategies have helped you integrate effectively in a new organization or role? I would love to know in the comments!