So, you’ve finally landed that new job! Congratulations.
Now the hard part: You have to start a new job. That means new people, new processes, new policies, new location…in short, a totally new culture and environment.
Even the most experienced professionals find situations like this uncomfortable. For some people, just transferring to a new area within the same organization can trigger awkward feelings and flashbacks to high school.
Change, of any sort, can make you feel like a fish out of water. It takes time to acclimate. To ease the process, consider the tips below.
Before you jump in with both feet, take some time to observe your new surroundings and learn about the natives. Every organization, and indeed every department within an organization, can have its own unique culture, social norms, and even its own language to a degree. These things aren’t written down anywhere. The only way to understand what it’s like is to observe it.
Stay Open Minded
It’s easy to assess a new environment and focus only on how different it is. In your old job, they did it like this. These people could be so much more efficient if they did it like that.
This attitude will only slow your process of adapting. Keep an open mind when exploring this new world. They have their ways and, at this point, who are you to question that? Wait until you really understand the ins and outs before you start making suggestions for changes or improvements.
When In Rome…
Too often, people enter a new environment but fail to adapt to the customs there. As a result, they end up feeling excluded and others look at them as distant or wonder if they deem themselves superior in some way.
It’s not hard to simply do as your new colleagues do and become one of the group. If everyone dresses in a business casual wardrobe, follow their lead. If people tend to bring donuts to the office on Fridays, volunteer to grab the treats one day. These things are little demonstrations that you want to be “one of them” and most people will appreciate the effort.
Stay True to You
While you want to adapt, you also want to stay authentic and true to yourself. Only adapt in ways that you feel are acceptable to you and don’t put your fundamental principles on the line or change who you are as a person.
For example, if you’ve just joined a department where people are intense and loud with their team interactions, but that’s just not your style, you don’t have to change your personality to make it work. Instead, you may need to adapt your expectations for others. Recognize that they behave differently from what you’re accustomed to or perhaps what you’d prefer. It takes all types to make a successful team. You’re there because you contribute some kind of unique value, just as everyone does. You can still find ways to become part of the group without fundamentally altering your core character.
No matter what your situation, keep in mind that changes in the environment, whether subtle or drastic, can be stressful. Give yourself the time and space you need to get your bearings. Before long, it will feel like home—for better or worse!