Research has shown that adjusting to a new work environment is the greatest challenge posed by starting a new job. And while earning an MBA will prepare you well for many of the challenges you face throughout your professional life, no professor or textbook can anticipate the specific idiosyncrasies of your next employer’s corporate culture. However, following a few basic guidelines can help you to make a good impression while quickly figuring out how to function efficiently at your new job.
Do Your Homework
Do not wait until day one to get started. Read up on the firm’s history and culture, if that information is publicly available. You may not get the inside scoop, but preparation will reduce anxiety and equip you with good conversation starters.
Although some people feel embarrassed about asking questions, it is the only professional behavior in a new work environment. Asking good questions and absorbing the answers will actually impress your coworkers and superiors, even if you have to ask a few obvious questions to arrive at the insightful ones. That said, if your question-answerer seems harried or annoyed, be considerate in how you communicate your queries.
Follow Communication Protocols
Observe managers and coworkers, and learn their communication styles. Who prefers contact by email, and who prefers a phone call? When is it appropriate to ask for a meeting, and how are meetings run? These communication protocols are often dictated by unwritten rules, but they have a surprising impact on your efficiency and rapport with others. And while understanding may be assumed, it is generally acceptable to ask direct questions if you are confused.
Balance Old and New Relationships
It is a good idea to keep in touch with old coworkers and classmates while actively building relationships with your new contacts. Don’t cling to the past or try to bond too quickly with new acquaintances. Maintain your professionalism while socializing, and avoid taking sides in conflicts that have been around longer than you have. If you lay the foundations of your new professional relationships carefully, they will become much stronger over time.
Understand How to Work Hard
According to The Creative Group (authors of the survey referred to above), “organizations define hard work differently.” Understanding how work ethic is understood in your new corporate culture will help you to focus your energy on efficient action, while receiving recognition for your work. Some companies will allow you to make your own hours, but expect you to be extremely responsive to email, even on weekends. One firm may require that you meet every deadline on time, while another may emphasize the quality of your work over the timeliness of its delivery.
Make Time for Yourself
Particularly if your new job coincides with a move to a new city, it is important to attend to your personal needs as well as your professional ones. Exploring the neighborhood, making new friends and just taking the time to relax will help you to think positively about your new job and commit to it fully. While being mindful of your professional commitments, do not neglect yourself. After all, the more fulfilled you are in your personal life, the more energy you will be able to put into your new job.