I joined Atomic about four months ago, and during that time, the office has also welcomed a new cohort of wonderful Accelerators and interns. Their excitement reminded me of all the great advice I’ve gotten about starting fresh from bosses, parents, mentors, and peers over the years.
I’ve been keeping a mental list of what has worked well for settling into my new role. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of a new work opportunity, whether it’s your first job or your fifth.
1. Get to Know Your Colleagues
Do your best to get off to a good start with your teammates. Take time to understand their roles in the organization, the value they bring, and what excites them about their work. Find opportunities to have a less work-focused conversation with them over lunch or coffee. If you sometimes struggle to break the ice, ask them where they’re from and what their experience in the industry has been like. Do they listen to podcasts? If so, exchange some of your favorites. Are you an avid sports fan? Ask your colleagues if they’re watching an upcoming game.
2. Be Open and Compare Less
Every place where you work will offer you a unique experience. There will be things that make sense and things that make no sense at all. Try to focus on the value a new workplace can provide for your career and your total mindset. Reset expectations, and be open to changing how you think about work.
3. Observe How People Communicate
One of the best ways to start feeling independent in your new role is to reach an understanding about how things work–not just the easy stuff like how to make a cup of coffee, but how your colleagues communicate. Is there an online company manual where you can get quick information? If so, use it as starting place to answer questions and learn about the culture.
If you determine that you need more help, reach out to a colleague. It is a nice gesture to use the resources provided before asking a colleague to take time to explain something.
What is the dominant communication style in your organization? Is it an ‘Ask’ or ‘Guess’ culture? If your office offers a communication assessment such as StrengthsFinder, Myers-Briggs, or the DISC assessment, consider taking it to learn more about yourself and your office mates.
4. Remember That People Might Be Busier Than You (At First)
During the first few days (or weeks) at a new job, you may not be fully utilized. You may even find yourself experiencing moments of boredom. This is normal. But remember that the people around you might be at or over capacity. Be conscious of their time when asking questions or scheduling meetings with them. Soon enough, you’ll also be busy, and you’ll start to understand the best ways to communicate with your colleagues when they’re deeply engaged in work.
5. Be Cautious of Critique
It’s easy to join a project, look at the backlog, and say, “What was going on here?!” But you’ll quickly realize that is not the best way to introduce yourself to a team or a manager. When you are new, you do not have all the context to fully understand decisions that occurred before you joined. Be compassionate toward your predecessors, and make efforts to understand how and why things came to be.
One day, someone will inherit work from you. Imagine yourself on the other side of the equation, and follow the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
6. Be Patient with Yourself
The first weeks and months of a new job are not easy. You might feel lonely and miss some of the close relationships you had with colleagues in a past role. You might feel like you’re on the periphery of the office conversation and laughter. Again, this is normal. It takes time to build relationships and to feel comfortable.
7. Remember That This, Too, Shall Pass
You can’t know everything in the beginning. If you make a mistake, learn from it and move forward. Learning isn’t always easy. In fact, some of the best learning will leave you feeling clumsy and unsettled. Be kind to yourself in your new job, and take moments to recognize the progress you’re making.