Five Ways to Adjust to a New Workplace Faster
Entering a new workplace is scary: not only do you not know your co-workers, you don’t know what kind of workplace culture to expect or what kind of management style you’ll be faced with.
Adjusting can take time, and for many this awkward initial period is trying. But there are plenty of ways to make it easier, and ensure you integrate into your new team more quickly.
Here are five things you can do to make that adjustment period smoother:
1. Ask plenty of questions
The single best way to adjust to a new workplace is to understand how it operates – and that means asking as many questions as you can. When you are given information, make sure you ask for clarification on anything which seems unclear to you; equally, presenting follow up questions to information you are given can help you gain a more comprehensive understanding.
Asking questions can feel unnatural, and many don’t like to bring excess attention to themselves or risk revealing gaps in their knowledge. But in reality, most managers will be impressed by your curiosity and desire to learn. Going to co-workers with queries can also help generate dialogue and ultimately build your relationships with them.
2. Get to know the workspace
Upon being shown around a new workspace, it is easy to get overwhelmed with new information and not take in the physical environment. But knowing your way around and developing a sense of familiarity with your new workspace is vital to feeling at home there.
We’re not suggesting you spend hours studying the building’s blueprints – just invest a little time exploring the buildings you’re working in and getting comfortable with their general layout. If possible, ask some colleagues to show you around, and learn a little bit about the surrounding areas, too.
3. Pay attention to the culture
Every workplace has its own distinct culture – a set of shared values, attitudes and expectations that inform every part of the organisation. Understanding these dynamics and being able to integrate yourself into them – is a major test for new team members, and you should pay careful attention to anything that might help you do so.
Take note of how communication is handled – both what form it takes (email, in-person, messaging app) and how individual co-workers talk to one another; observe how language is used, from how technical terminology is deployed to what nicknames and shorthand are widely accepted; and follow closely the way management interacts with employees.
While you don’t need to conform to every single aspect of the existing culture, having a clear understanding of how things are done will help you avoid making embarrassing errors of judgement and feel more at ease.
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4. Be open with your co-workers
Clearly, you want to develop strong relationships with your co-workers; the real question is how to do it. Popular advice like ‘be positive’ or ‘be yourself’ is fine, but the reality is it’s not always possible to feel totally happy or authentically at ease right away. And our advice is simple: don’t pretend to be.
That’s not to say you should be actively negative; instead, you should be open about your worries, your doubts and your insecurities. Rather than putting extra pressure on yourself to act a certain way, show your co-workers that you’re willing to be vulnerable and want to establish an honest connection with them.
Ultimately, this will lead you to feel more confident expressing your opinions, which is a vital part of feeling at home in the workplace. And it will soften your colleagues towards you, making them in turn more open and receptive to your perspective.
5. Don’t expect too much too quickly
Often, it is the contrast between expectation and reality that causes us distress. It’s natural to be anxious in a new workplace, or miss your old co-workers – so allow yourself to feel those things.
If you expect to immediately feel at home in a new team, you are setting yourself up to feel like a failure; instead, remember that these things take time and focus on setting yourself small goals like learning co-workers’ names or navigating the building more easily. These smaller goals will quickly add up to something far more substantial, and approaching things this way will ensure your integration into the workforce feels much smoother and more natural.