After the excitement of landing a new job, the next task for a professional is to enter into the work environment not only as a contributor, but as someone who will also make interpersonal strides to become part of the team. No matter how many times you have started a new position, it is never an easy transition leaving behind a company where you had established personal and professional rapport.
Onboarding is a difficult process, and candidates can underestimate the amount of time it will take to feel comfortable in the new work environment. Our recruiters share five ways that you can strategically observe, communicate and get involved in the culture of your workplace, and build productive relationships with your new colleagues.
1. Ask Questions
While career professionals want to make a confident impression in the first weeks after starting a new role, no one expects a new hire to ‘know it all’. It is important to remember that regardless of your level (entry, middle or senior executive) that there is a degree of awkwardness you will feel, working side-by-side with people you don’t know.
Leadership roles are more complex, and providing a strong managerial presence is important, but even senior executives with decades of industry experience need to start first by asking questions. The fastest and most effective way to get to know the organization, your department and coworkers is to be proactive by asking questions. It also conveys that you are coachable, eager to learn and ready to excel in your own role, and that you value the opinion and experience of others who have worked within the company longer.
2. Understand Roles
Every organization works to formulate a sense of team, at the macro corporate level and at the micro, departmental level. As a new employee, it is important to learn “who does what” in your workplace, and what groups work together. Make a note of departmental responsibilities, and people who may overlap with your job function to produce deliverables. You’ll know who to go to, to help get the job done, and recognizing the important roles of coworkers on the team, will help onboard you socially and integrate you into the team.
3. Observe Relationships and Personality Indicators
An important interpersonal skill to master is recognizing established relationships at all levels in the workplace. Create a mental profile for members of your team, that will enhance your ability to communicate and collaborate with them on projects. Are they an introvert or an extrovert? Are they creative or analytical (or both) when tasked with problem solving?
Learning who has strong platonic bonds on your team, and in the workplace, is also another key observation for new hires. Employees that have tenure and years of experience working together can be exclusive socially, preferring to keep to a tight knit group, rather than share personal or professional insights with someone who is ‘new’ to the team. Introduce yourself not only to individuals, but also to socially established groups within your organization politely, to start building your internal network.
4. Get Involved
One of the best ways to feel like ‘part of the time’ is to dive into a social or volunteer charitable event. Whether it is providing help to plan a seasonal office party, or participating in a fundraising event on behalf of the organization, get hands-on with some extracurricular activities.
Why is this an effective strategy? It gives a new employee the chance to demonstrate an interest and commitment to being part of the workplace culture. Also, when removed from daily activities in a more relaxed setting, important conversations happen that start to create the foundation for knowing others, and being known by your colleagues. Find a way to get involved, and break through the walls of unfamiliarity.
5. Share with Co-workers
It is natural to want to ease in slowly to a new career role, and sharing about one’s personal life is an act of trust. New workers are socially vulnerable, often unsure what to share about themselves, and who to share it with. It is natural to feel a little bit guarded, but it is important to remain approachable and to engage co-workers, to start creating productive relationships.
Avoid oversharing sensitive or highly personal information in the workplace. While the intention to know, and be known by your coworkers is good, it can lead to some awkwardness or misunderstanding between you and your colleagues. Start small, and keep it positive and pleasant, when sharing a few details about your private life.
We’d love to hear your insights about starting from the ground up, with a new role and new employer. What measures have you taken to onboard successfully in a new team environment? Leave a comment for us.