I switched companies about four months ago. I went from the everyday familiar (commute, colleagues, and conference rooms) to the unknown and the newness of it all. I’m the “new employee” encountering people’s smiles and helpful ways of making me feel at home, but there are a few things that only time will fix. You still struggle with your time sheets, the idea you presented wasn’t peppered with pom poms and cheers, and you can’t figure out how to scan your documents and e-mail them to yourself just yet. How do you deal with the new job struggles while not losing your mind in the process? Everyone’s struggle varies, but we all want to feel we belong and fit, especially if you’re spending the majority of your time, ideas and passion at this place. No worries, unpack your knick knacks, pour yourself a cup of joe and take notes.
1. Have regular contact with your mentor/friend/someone who cares about your career. You might wonder why I didn’t advise speaking to your spouse, partner, or loved one. Well, give them a little break, you probably already wore them out while processing if you should leave your old company and look for a new job. They were also there to calm your nerves before the interview and comforted you when you realized you truly needed this new job and your life would be over if you didn’t get it and helped you keep your cool while you worried about it… keeping them, the cat and the neighbors up at night with your nerve-wracking pacing… leading up to the offer. You see? They need a break–and a trip to Miami (possibly without you). Instead, rely on your career mentor, they know you and your career path and will politely tell you to calm down. Mine happens to be my ex-boss from my last job and the advice she gave me was “The first six months will always be the toughest because you will romanticize your last job (even if you hated it, which you didn’t) and the compare and contrast isn’t always fair. Your mentor will provide you with the reality check needed to keep you from freaking out and just focus on what you were hired to do. How lucky am I that my ex-boss now works a few blocks away from my new job? Side note: I also have a mentor in the employer branding business who keeps me sane on a daily basis, Celinda Appleby. Next to Kim Kardashian, I’m the luckiest person in the world!
2. Make your mark or at least mark your space. You need to have “your stuff” around you in order to ease into your new surroundings. That cute photo of your puppy, bring it! The pic of you and the hubby off on holiday — make sure that’s with you too. Anything to distract you from the thoughts of “Does anyone like me? I can’t ask someone how to work the copy machine “again.” Instead, you come back to your desk and look around and know you were hired for a reason and you’re the best there is and so you need to take a deep breath, calm down and grab the mason jar you brought from home and fill it with the free ice and tea offered in the pantry and sip, sip, relax. Spend the next few moments rearranging the chotskies on your desk before you tackle that damn copy machine from hell one more time. (I have an owl, two army men, a hula girl and my husband just recently surprised me with a Wonder Woman figurine. I’m all set for my freakouts) Bonus Tip: Research shows how being in familiar surroundings can help with anxiety but so can music — so get your tunes on!
3.Make sure you can have an open relationship with your boss. This means that in the interviewing process, you want to get to know them a little more than just a 30-minute interview. I know my boss and his boss both made themselves available to me throughout my interview process and without being a pest, I took advantage of it. I invited them to breakfast, we had a few lunches and several phone calls. I wanted to catch them on days where they were experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly. If I was leaving my amazing job at Ogilvy & Mather, I wanted to know that I had allies on my side from the moment I flashed my new hire badge around the building. Although I think I was at an advantage because it was the interaction that my boss had with his boss that convinced me this is where I should be to take my career to the next level. Both of them are so cerebral and have an analytic way about them that drew me in and I remember saying to them at one particular breakfast meeting, “If you can guarantee that I will participate in these intense Human Resources/Employment Branding conversation on a regular basis with you two — then I’m in!” And I have to admit — so far, they have kept their promise. In fact, my boss always makes me feel empowered after I speak to him and my boss’s boss always makes me feel like I put on a cape and can solve any problem that comes our way…maybe even tackle world hunger if given a chance! Fun Fact: In a study conducted by Accenture, 31% of employees don’t like their boss.
When you’re new, certain things will rattle you–and that’s normal and it’s okay. Just keep in mind you’re not the only one who goes through it and with these 3 things–you’ll be able to battle any freakout moments with ease. Trust me. I’m currently there with you.