A move to a new organization or different team within your current organization can feel disorienting and stressful. You want to earn respect, be liked, and find meaning in your new venture, but the stakes feel high. They hired you for this position – now you have to prove them right. It’s easy to get lost in worry. However,there IS an alternative to worry – intentional action.
When my clients join a new organization or team, I advise them to focus on five things.
Build authentic connections. Resist the impulse to impress others by showing how much you know and instead, get curious about them. Learn their stories, priorities, preferred ways of communicating, and unique gifts. In turn, give them an opportunity to get to know who you are and what motivates you. Share your back-story and ask about theirs. Investing in connection is not about making a lot of lunch dates – it’s about making every interaction one in which people feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Learn the unwritten rules. Dropping into a new organization or team can be fraught with landmines. It’s easy to assume that things work the same way as they did in your previous workplace – and this is almost never true. During your interview you learned about the “espoused” culture. Now it’s time to learn how things really work. Through observation and inquiry, you can put your understanding about unwritten cultural rules to the test. For example, in one organization working late and on weekends may be considered a badge of honor. But in your new workplace it could be seen as a sign that you’re not capable of getting the job done during “normal” hours.
Share your priorities. Are you clear about what success “looks like” in the eyes of your new boss and team members? On what basis and timeline will your contributions be evaluated? Take the initiative to share and solicit feedback about your priorities with your new team members. Get as concrete as possible by asking: “What will you need to see to conclude that I have achieved X?” Refine your priorities based on what you hear.
Show up with attention and intention. On-boarding can be stressful! Instead of getting caught up in worry, begin each day by asking yourself two kinds of questions:
“Attention” Questions: What am I noticing and appreciating about working with this new team? Who are the people with whom I want to build deeper connections? Where do I lack clarity on norms, expectations, etc.? What power dynamics am I noticing?
“Intention” Questions: What conversations can I have today to feel more integrated and comfortable working here? What actions can I take to build synchrony and balance with my new colleagues?
Focus on trust. At the end of the day your colleagues want to know whether they can trust you to keep your commitments, make clear requests, tell the truth, and be a respectful presence in the workplace. Stephen Covey referred to this relationship as the “bank account” in which every interaction increases the balance of trust and good will between you and each team member. Close work relationships require constant deposits.
What have you found to be helpful as a new member of a team? Please share your tips with the readers of this blog…
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