Tips for Transitioning to a New Team
It seems like the hard work should be over once you've landed a new position. After all, you've stood out among hundreds of applicants; you've survived multiple rounds of interviews; and you've given notice and tied up loose ends at your old position. You'll enjoy smooth sailing now, right? Unfortunately, that's generally not the case. Whether your new position is entry-level or C-suite, you're joining an existing work team, filled with unknown dynamics and challenges that probably weren't mentioned during the interview process. Try the following tips to ensure your transition to a new work team goes as smoothly as possible.
Leave Preconceived Notions At the Door
Particularly if you've been hired in a supervisory position, the hiring manager—aka your new boss—might have given you some hints about trouble spots on the team. And you might very well be tasked with immediately righting the ship. Keep in mind, though, that righting the ship requires shipmates. Your new coworkers have valuable information to share, and it's your job to gather that data before you implement an action plan. Coming in with your mind made up won't win you any allies and could result in your new teammates' working against you.
Take Notes and Observe Everything
Your No. 1 priority during your first few weeks at a new job is to learn everything you can—about your colleagues, your company, and your clients. Listen more than you speak, and pay particular attention to the corporate culture. Does everyone arrive at 8 a.m. on the dot, or do people straggle in? Do coworkers eat lunch together in the break room, or does everyone do their own thing? Can you identify interoffice alliances and conflicts? Soak up all of the information you can. This is the time to use your powers of observation.
Prioritize Building Relationships
You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so take advantage of the opportunities that come a new employee's way. Accept lunch and happy hour invitations so you have a chance to get to know your colleagues in a more casual manner. Linger around the coffee pot to find out about their kids, dogs, and weekend activities. And make an effort to seek out your colleagues as well. Make plans to go to lunch or coffee with coworkers so you can get to know them in a more casual environment.
Find a Company Mentor
Keep your eyes open for a colleague who can answer your newbie questions. Some things aren't necessarily covered in the policy manual, like how to get new office supplies or how coworker birthdays are celebrated. A trusted coworker can help you navigate these types of cultural situations. (Don't forget to pay it forward when you're no longer the new guy. Someday you'll feel comfortable enough to answer these questions and play a valuable role in another employee's onboarding.)
Avoid Saying "At My Old Job, We Did…"
It's great to bring your ideas and experience to the table; after all, it's why you were hired! But do it with finesse. If you consistently make references to your previous employer, you'll start noticing eye rolls and inward groans from your new team. Everyone will start to ask themselves why you left if your old job was so great.
Proceed With Caution When Making Changes
Again, you might have been hired to right the ship, but if possible, don't rush to make major changes. There are likely very good reasons why things are done the way they are, and it's best to take the time to find out those reasons. Slowing down also gives you the opportunity to secure buy-in from your new colleagues or direct reports. Success will be easier to achieve if everyone is on board.
Volunteer to Help Out the Team
When you're ramping up as a new employee, you might not have a full workload, so you could have the opportunity to pitch in as-needed with time-consuming and tedious tasks. Demonstrate that you're a team player by asking to assist wherever you can. Not only will your cooperative nature be on full display, but you might gain valuable face time with colleagues in other areas of your company.
Leave Bad Habits Behind
Starting a new job is a chance for a fresh start! Maybe you kept a messy desk at your old job, or perhaps you had to be reminded to turn in expense reports. Whatever the case, a new job gives you a chance to break free from bad behavior and try something new.
It's never easy being the new kid on the block, but remember this too shall pass. Stay positive, and take every opportunity to showcase how valuable you are to the team.