How to Fit in at Your New Job
These tips on how to ease into a new job and get to know your new co-workers will help set you up for success!
Learning how to build rapport with your new colleagues, customers, and clients is one of the fastest ways to ease into your new job and begin feeling like you fit in.
By aiming to build a strong rapport with your co-workers and your boss, you show that you're open to understanding other people’s point of view. This helps you build stronger, more rewarding relationships with the people you see every day. These new co-workers, after all, will be on your radar for up to 50 hours a week. The sooner you’re able to connect with your co-workers on a friendly, professional level, the sooner you’ll feel like you fit in. Then you'll be ready to move your career forward while developing a high degree of on the job satisfaction.
Here are five simple tips for becoming more relaxed and comfortable at your new workplace:
1. Ask questions and show a genuine interest in your co-workers (without getting too nosy, of course). Get to know your new colleagues by asking them about their hobbies, their favorite sports, where they went to school or what they studied. Asking questions will help you find common ground with them and build rapport. While it's OK to ask questions of your new co-workers, try to keep the questions light and neutral to begin with. You don’t need to know about their political or religious beliefs or their age or relationship status. In time, if those thing are important and relevant, your co-workers will find ways to let you know about them on their own terms.
Dale Carnegie, author of How To Win Friends and Influence People says “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
2. Take the time to have lunch every day with your co-workers. They want to get to know who you are as well. In my article on how to have a successful practicum experience, I recommended that students take the time to eat lunch with their co-workers every day. Having your lunch on hand gives you more free time to socialize with your new co-workers. If you have to run down the street to pick up a sandwich, you might miss out on some great conversations and networking opportunities.
3. Enjoy being a people watcher for the first few weeks of your job. Instead of feeling self-conscious about being the new one on the job, look at this as an opportunity to objectively observe your co-workers. What kind of personality types can you pick out? Who are the introverts and the extroverts? Who is a super-neat freak and who has a more laid back organizational style? If you can turn your attention outward, in a non-judgmental way, and focus on simply observing the wonderfully diverse personality types in your new workplace, you’ll feel less self-conscious. By appreciating each person’s unique personality type and recognizing how each person fits into the team dynamic, you’ll be in a better position to get along with your new co-workers and build your own effective work teams. For example, you don’t want to find out at the last minute that the person you delegated a presentation to is the shyest person in the office!
4. Demonstrate that you have good boundaries. Keep the intimate details of your private life separate from your professional life. You probably wouldn’t feel very comfortable at a party if someone you just met started talking about their traumatic childhood or how horrible their marriage was. People who don’t have solid boundaries about what they share with others can make some folks uncomfortable – which is the last thing you want if you're trying to find your way within a new working situation. Also, you have no idea who is worthy of keeping your confidence and who will blab the details of your private life to the next person in line at the coffee shop. If you want to fit in at work, try to keep your initial conversations with your co-workers light. Save the confessionals for your best friend, spouse, or closest sibling.
5. Maintain a positive attitude at all times. Speak well of the people at your last job. Even though you've passed the job interview and been diplomatic and discrete about your previous employer, now is not the time to let loose and start badmouthing your former boss or co-workers. For that matter, there's never a good time to badmouth your previous employer, no matter how secure you feel in your new job. Even if some of your new co-workers talk openly about their former employers, avoid loosening up and letting things slip past your lips. There is very little benefit to slamming your old employer or old co-workers in your new workplace. At best, you’ll be viewed as someone who is unprofessional and disloyal. At worst, what you say will find its way back to the subjects of your derisive comments. With today’s endless networking opportunities and social media connections, our work worlds are rapidly shrinking.
Do your very best at even the smallest of tasks. “Don't be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves.”— Dale Carnegie
When you are no longer the new kid on the block, and someone new joins the office, make sure that you do whatever you can to help that person feel like they fit in. A recent study at the University of British Columbia found that being ostracized at work can be even more damaging that being bullied or harassed. No one wants to feel invisible, especially when they are just starting a new job and want to make a good impression. “Ostracism actually leads people to feel more helpless, like they are not worthy of any attention at all,” said UBC professor Sandra Robinson.
The study found that those who identified as having been ostracized were significantly more likely to report a diminished sense of workplace belonging and commitment. They also had a larger proportion of health problems.
Be patient as they learn the ropes. Introduce them to your co-workers. Make them feel welcome. Treat them the way you wanted to be treated when you first started your job. The new person wants to fit in at work just as much as you did when you were the new kid on the block.
How long does it usually take you to feel like you fit in at a new job?
If you're not sure how to make small talk with your new co-workers, the video tips below might help.
What suggestions do you have for people who want to fit in to a new workplace? Please leave a comment!
© 2012 Sally Hayes