After four years of delicious stability and security, I recently threw myself dramatically out of my comfort zone by starting a brand new job, on a brand new career path, in a brand new city. I don’t do things by halves, what can I say!
Although this has, for the most part, been incredibly fun and I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time, it has also been incredibly daunting too. You see, I’m a person who struggles with change so, rather than taking all of this in my stride, I’ve had to make a concerted effort to ensure that I didn’t just become a quivering wreck on the floor of my shiny new office.
In the interest of offering a helping hand to anybody else who is currently in the same unsettled and confusing boat as me, I thought I’d offer a handy how-to about being the new person in the office.
1. Be brave:
Being brave is my absolute top tip when it comes to being the new person at work. No, I don’t mean brave in the sense of bungee jumping out of your office window for a dare…hold on there cowboy. What I mean is constantly reminding yourself to do things that you might feel uncomfortable about. When you’re new, this often means gathering courage to do even the simplest of things like starting conversations, sharing information about yourself, or even eating your lunch in the presence of people you barely know. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be constantly worrying about how you’re coming across and whether you’re ever going to get to a point where you feel like you can be yourself, which can be utterly exhausting. Being brave will ensure that you don’t give yourself a heart attack, collapse in a heap, or just hide yourself away from everybody.
2. Join in:
In the face of being totally overwhelmed by your new surroundings, it can be really tempting to run away from all of the awkwardness at the first available opportunity. My advice to you is not to do this! Going back to being brave, encourage yourself to get involved in whatever might make your transition into a fully-fledged team member that little bit easier. If you’re invited out for after-work drinks, go along just for one. If there’s an opportunity to get involved in any extra-curricular clubs or activities, inquire about joining. Or, even on a smaller scale, you can join in by braving the lunch room despite it being full of people you don’t know, or by pairing up with somebody on a project, that kind of thing. There have been times where the last thing I wanted to do was anything other than just run for the safety of my lovely house, but I stuck with it and it has paid off no end. You will make new friends really quickly, you’ll be seen as social and involved, and you’ll start to feel less daunted once you figure out that these people are humans, just like you.
3. Ask questions:
I get it. You don’t want people to think you’re an idiot so you’re trying to make sense of how the printer works all by yourself. Or you’re trying to work around the fact that you can’t access one of the computer programs you need for your day-to-day work even though that’s actually impossible. Fact is, it’d be approximately 100% easier if you just asked somebody to give you a hand. Everybody was new once and there are always teething problems that a colleague will have either experienced themselves or will know how to fix. Get over your pride and force yourself to ask questions. It’s the only way you’ll learn! Besides, asking questions makes you look like a keen little bean which is always a positive.
4. Be patient:
Oh, if only I could follow my own advice!! I am still struggling with this approximately six weeks into my new role, but it’s a valuable piece of advice anyway. All any new person wants is to prove themselves to be a nice person who is capable of doing their job well. As simple as that sounds, it can be really difficult to hold off on putting endless amounts of pressure on yourself to do well immediately. It’s so important that you take a step back and remind yourself that you’re brand new to all of this and that there’s bound to be a period of adjustment. Give yourself time to bed in and to learn how things work; you can’t be expected to know it all straight away! Ask for feedback from your manager and colleagues, and just keep doing your best. Over time, you’ll start to feel like everything is making more sense and your confidence will soar.
5. Look after yourself:
One unexpected side-effect that I’ve discovered about being the new person is that I’m exhausted. It’s tough putting on a brave face every day when, in reality, you could do with just hiding under a blanket for a while. Getting involved in all of the social activities will be a struggle sometimes and small talk is just the most tiring thing you can ever do. There’s also an element of not feeling like you can be your true self and it’s tricky to be on your ‘best behaviour’ all of the time. So cut yourself some slack. Acknowledge that you’ve been thrust into something massively different to what you’re used to and that you’re surrounded by new things and new people. It’s a challenge! Get yourself to bed early, take plenty of time to recharge your batteries, and find your favourite ways to clear your mind each evening. It’s important to give yourself the chance to keep going at work without burning out, especially in the first couple of months.
So, although it can be an absolute minefield navigating everything that comes with being the new person in the office, you’ll be going in the right direction if you can follow these simple tips. I’m right there with you and I know you’ve totally got this! Go get ’em tiger.