The transition to a new organisation can be made smoother by following a few simple guidelines, says Laura Woodward
Q: I was recently given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy after having worked for the same company for nearly 20 years. I decided to go for it as I had been unhappy with the job for some time. Fortunately, I have already found other employment, but I am anxious about how best to integrate into a new company and a new team. What things should I be thinking about to make the transition easier?
A: First of all, congratulations on finding a new job! It is perfectly natural to feel a little anxious about starting a role somewhere new, particularly if you worked in the same organisation for a long time and were well known there. The thought of having to start over can be daunting, but hopefully exciting too.
The main thing I would suggest is to be yourself. The new organisation has employed you not only based on the skills, knowledge and experience you bring, but because in their view you will fit in with your new team and into the organisation as a whole. Don’t try to project the image you think that they want to see. You should also be conscious not to express any negative opinions you may have of your former employer. Likewise, avoid harking back to ‘the good times’ at your previous company. This is a fresh start for you, so you need to approach it, and your team, in a friendly, relaxed, positive manner and be full of enthusiasm about your new job.
What you can do
Naturally, you will want to make a positive impact and in doing so demonstrate to your new organisation that you bring a fresh eye and extra skills to your team. You should aim to do this · this is why companies like to recruit external candidates. But you should balance this with ensuring you don’t upset anyone through hasty judgments about how things are and how they should be within the team. It is important to take time to understand your role and how it fits into the organisation. Spend time listening to your peers, managers and colleagues.
And be an active listener. When meeting with the relevant stakeholders, be sure to ask them about their role, what they do and how they envisage working with you. I’m not suggesting you have to make friends with everyone you work with, but it is important to be friendly and establish a good rapport with the people you are going to be spending 7-8 hours each day with.
Do recognise that it may take to you 3-6 months to settle in. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be up and running within a week. No one will expect you to know everything straight away. Also, don’t see asking for help as a weakness: colleagues will expect you to be unsure while you find your feet. Use the first few weeks to set up meetings with the key people you will be working with. Be sure to sit down with your manager so that you understand fully what your key objectives are and what their expectations are of you for the first three months, six months, 12 months and so on. Your manager should also be able to help you identify who else you should be talking to. The culture of the organisation may be very different to your previous one. It might be more formal or more relaxed, so allow time to adjust.
What to expect
Your new team will need to adjust to you too. They may also be feeling unsure and unsettled about your arrival, so you should be conscious of this. While the team may be established, it is likely that, with you joining, it will go through the team development process, described by Bruce Tuckman in 1965 as ‘forming, storming, norming and performing’. This is the process team members go through to ensure they share a vision and come to a consensus on how they will achieve their goals. Your joining might initiate this process. Therefore, don’t be concerned if things feel a little uncertain when you start - this is quite normal.
If someone within your new team doesn’t respond well to you, try not to take it personally. It may be that a friend of theirs had your role previously. Alternatively, they may have applied for the role and been unsuccessful. It takes time to establish trust with a new team member. As already highlighted above, if you approach this new opportunity in a positive way, are a good listener and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to know everything straight away, I am sure you will soon settle into your new role. Good luck, and enjoy this next stage in your career.
If you have more advice you’d like to share about this month’s question - or have your own career conundrum for Laura - please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.