Adapting to Company Culture
First, congratulations on landing your new job! Now that you know who your new employer is, it's time to relax a bit. After you catch your breath, however, there's still some work to do — to make sure you start out on the right foot...
Preparing for Your New "Company Culture"
In the same way that "first impressions" were a deciding factor during the interview stage, they are also important as you meet your new co-workers and begin to build relationships with them. Your primary challenge is smoothly adapting to the "culture" of your new workplace, and eventually enhancing that culture by contributing your own unique attributes and qualities.
On your new job, the tasks and responsibilities you have been hired to perform may be very similar, if not identical, to those you performed on your previous job. It's often easy to think that moving from one company to another will be an effortless transition. In most cases, however, you — and your new co-workers — can experience at least some degree of culture shock. In the same way that your new company culture will influence you, your uniqueness will influence it. Whether your influence is positive, negative, major, or minor is up to you.
Questions to Ask Yourself as You Begin Your New Job
Who's in charge, and how should I relate to them? What, exactly, is the charter or scope of my new job? What are the most important dynamics at my new workplace that should influence my behavior and attitudes? You might meet people who perform the same tasks done as you have in the past, but does it somewhat differently than you have. How should you handle it? Should you consider making suggestions for improvement? Will you step on someone's toes if you do?
The following tips and guidelines should help you answer these questions and more — as you begin working to adapt to your new work environment...
- First Things First: On your first day at work, be sure to bring a notebook, pen, and all the paperwork and documentation you can think of that will be needed for "human resource" administrative purposes. For example, bring your Social Security card, driver's license, birth certificate, health insurance policy, special certifications and licenses, and family/contact information (addresses, telephone numbers, insurance policies, etc.). Determine beforehand how many dependents you want to claim for tax withholding purposes (form W-4). If you come prepared with this type of information, your new employer will appreciate your effort to begin on an efficient note.
- Orientation Tips: Whether your new job is with a small firm or a large corporation, your employer will probably spend some time "orienting" you to your new workplace and co-workers. Although you may already know much of what you will hear during orientation, you should carry two items with you at all times: your notebook and pen. Even if you don't need to take many notes during orientation, let your notebook and pen serve as reminders that you should be in a listening mode. Jot down any questions you may have, and pay special attention to the names, faces, and titles of the people you meet or hear about. Not having to ask about someone's name or title later will show your employer and co-workers that you are a good listener, willing to learn, and interested in becoming a part of the organization.
- Getting Started with the Magic Word — Teamwork: Rather than trying to distinguish yourself from others at the beginning of a new job, we recommend that you focus on one goal: becoming a team member. At this point, it's important to remember that your employer has prepared a place for you within a team structure, whether the team is an entire small company or a small part of a large organization. And your employer's wishes are that you will work well with the team, helping to make it complete and successful. With this view in mind, your short-term goals become simple: If you can integrate smoothly into your team, accept and respect team leadership, work well with a sense of true team spirit, and perform your job responsibly, you will start successfully. Remember: Your employer wants you to succeed!
- Widening Your Focus — It's All in the Timing: If you are successful in getting started with a focus on teamwork, at some point you will be able to look at your situation and understand that you now have the knowledge, experience, and familiarity needed to widen your focus. In some cases, this may occur in a matter of days or weeks; in other instances, it might take years. But when that time arrives, you will know that you are now a full member of the team and your ideas will be heard. For example, when you first start a job you may know a better way to perform specific tasks than those used by your new co-workers. But your team members don't know you yet. They might see you as an opportunist rather than a team player. If you remain focused on the teamwork itself, however, your patience will eventually be rewarded and you will have an audience for your ideas. And once your ideas have been heard and respected, you will find that your horizons will quickly grow — and give you the freedom to grow.
This article is reprinted with permission from the Department of Employment Center’s Virtual One-Stop Center.