The First 3 Months When You Start A New Job

Valentina Roman

24 minutes read

It’s already been eight months since the beginning of this year. For some, the remaining months represent a good moment to try to change their job. And as we all know, it’s not uncommonseldom that a new job also brings with it new challenges. Starting from the work style, going through the internal processes, and up to clarity and transparency, there can be a lot of things that can make your life difficult when changing the job, the company, or the role.

And even if you enjoyed a complete onboarding process, it’s still possible that you might have doubts regarding certain aspects such as what to say or how to say certain things, what and who to ask, etc.
I spoke with several acquaintances who “survived” the first months in their new jobs and I’m ready to share some fresh opinions with you. And I will also use their experiences to illustrate the reasons why sometimes, when new on the job, one might feel insecure, frustrated, worried, anxious, or at least weird as if one lost their compass.

A change in the work style

„After two years of pandemic and one year before that, when I worked remotely, I am now at a job that requires me to go to the office. I think of myself as a sociable person, but now I have to admit that I find it difficult to meet and pay attention to so many people at the same time.” (C.M., project manager)

When working remotely, most of the time, any social interaction is duly announced by a meeting request, this gives you the time to prepare at least mentally for the fact that you will meet a new person. When working at the office, you get to experience a more spontaneous type of interaction and this might cause anxiety, especially if you don’t have anyone by your side to guide you in this new social environment. Remember that you’re the one who is most worried about your social awkwardness at your new job. For your new colleagues, it’s just business as usual. And the best part is that soon you will have gotten used to all your colleagues and most of your anxiety will have faded away.

A tendency to ruminate and worry

„Regardless of the employer, the job, or the city, I’ve always had this “companion” with me: the impostor syndrome. As a newcomer, I’ve always felt the need to impress, I had to somehow justify the employer’s choice and that’s why very often I would end up with burn-out syndrome within the first months on the job. And always, the most frustrating part for me was the lack of clarity: what’s expected of me, what is it that I have to do, how much should I get involved, how much do I have to deliver. This lack of clarity has always made me feel anxious and … not enough. At my current job, the difference was made by the clarity of the onboarding process. A clear image of the stages that I was supposed to go through, frequent feedback, the correct amount of information, and the employer’s expectations presented transparently – all this has made me feel at ease. I’ve given up on the absolute ideals and I let myself be guided. And performance followed easily because I felt in control.” (C.I., marketing specialist)

As a result of your inner fears and of worries about the future, you are reliving the past, and you are either flooded with negative thoughts (for example, “I shouldn’t have spoken my mind during that meeting, everybody looked at me as if I was crazy, I should have stayed at the old job, it would have been better”) or you set yourself a goal that is far too unattainable. Pay attention to the way you think and when you notice that you start to worry about things that are out of your control or that you cannot change, acknowledge that it’s not a productive way of thinking and move on. Learn to cope with certain thoughts and realise that they don’t necessarily reflect reality, and have more trust in what you can do.

A lack of clarity and transparency

“During the onboarding process some important information was left out, and I, as a newcomer, had no way of knowing all that information. Therefore, I was often confused about what was actually my role, and what was the role of some of the teams I was working with. What helped me get through this period was accepting the fact that in the beginning, I was going to make a lot of mistakes and that it’s ok to not fit in with all the teams.” (S.T., graphic designer)

“I am currently at a job that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. But there is something that’s not exactly right, there is quite a difference between what I actually do at work and how it was sold to me. I was expecting to go first through an onboarding process, and then to have access to a well-thought knowledge transfer process, especially because I need to deal with several rather complex projects, each with a long history.

The onboarding and the induction processes consisted of several calls with the manager, who then told me that he/she was leaving the position at the end of the month. How did I feel? Actually, it was a mix of feelings. I felt weird, because I had no basis and I found myself saddled overnight with projects of a type I did not know before, and there was no one there to ask for help or to give me any guidance. Frustrated, because I was asked to do certain things just because they had to be done, and I didn’t have the tools that I need in order to complete them. Lessons learned? The good part of this experience, beyond the obvious minuses, is that it forced me to ask a lot of questions, connect rapidly with very many people, and in such a way as to be able to do my job. At the same time, it made me understand what it is that I want from my next job: transparency. And a good team of people with whom to collaborate (I think that’s what I miss most after the pandemic years).” (C.I., account manager)

You are just starting a new role, in a new team, in a new organization. Consequently, you don’t know what to expect, you no longer have the predictability of the old job where you had your well-established work rhythm. Besides the anxiety caused by the change, there is also a lack of transparency or support from the team or the employer. And if you feel that your trust has been betrayed in the first months, then it’s a lot more difficult to find the motivation to hope that someday you will be able to share the same values.

The lack of positive feedback

We all like to receive positive feedback when we do something right, especially when we are in a new context. But when there is no close communication or worse, the feedback received from the colleagues is not encouraging, then, there is a risk of slipping into inaction: “I’m not doing anything anymore, nobody notices it anyway” or “It’s better that I don’t try, this way I can’t go wrong”. This is how we end up convincing ourselves that doing nothing is less likely to cause problems. Therefore, if you’re not sure about something, it will be more difficult to start a conversation with your colleagues or express a point of view. This tendency of staying silent is made worse by the fear of saying something wrong, and this will only exacerbate the lack of self-trust and will diminish the ability to socialize.

A positive example is offered by G.C., UX designer, București: “I never felt confused (at my new job), whenever I had a question, I got an answer, and I’ve always felt I was valued because I came up with new ideas since the first week, and they were taken into account. Because the focus is on quality and not on quantity, the process is rather natural. I don’t feel any kind of pressure, I don’t have to explain why a certain task took me longer to complete. I am part of a team of young people who have tons of interesting ideas and from whom I learn something new every day.
A language that is hard to understand.”

“Before my current job, I worked for 6 years in the same company. The process of onboarding in the new company started surprisingly well, especially from a procedural point of view. But the most difficult thing to deal with was the sheer amount of internal acronyms that I heard during my first meetings. I felt completely lost because my new colleagues would use two to three company-specific acronyms in each sentence, and as a newcomer, I had no way of knowing what all that meant. But step by step I learned all the acronyms and things improved.” (I.S., web developer). 

Even if you communicate your opinions with ease, and you have already opened up with your new colleagues, there is still the possibility of coming across certain terms or acronyms that you are not familiar with. It can become tiresome if you constantly interrupt conversations to ask for explanations, and the rest of your colleagues who are used to those words might find it difficult to even understand what it is that you don’t understand. In this case, the best would be to enlist the help of a buddy, a colleague that you can ask to help you with additional information until you learn the company’s “shorthand”; they might even provide you with a list of acronyms that you can keep close every time you go to a meeting.

A feeling that you don’t fit in

“The first months on the new job were as interesting as they were challenging. I like what I do, and I feel that I fit perfectly with the role, but despite all this, the integration with the team was not easy. The dynamics of the new team were rather formal and serious, so it took me quite some time to get accustomed to their ways. I was under the impression that the people were giving me the cold shoulder, but after a while, I understood that it was just the style of that team and that there was nothing personal.” (A.R. graphic designer)

“Because I changed jobs at the beginning of the pandemic, I didn’t get to experience first-hand the atmosphere at the office, nor did I get to meet in person the people with whom I would collaborate. It took us almost a year before we had the courage to go for a coffee after work, have a meeting at the office, or have lunch together. And this has made its mark on the way we worked together, and on how long it took us to build trust between the old colleagues and the newcomers.” (I.S., web developer)

Probably, the most disconcerting thing at a new job is the fact that you feel that you don’t belong, that you don’t understand the jokes about past experiences, that you don’t know the type of humor of each colleague, etc. And if you work remotely, you might even find it difficult to write to a colleague and ask him or her about things that are not related to work, even if you feel that you just need a moment of social connection. Before, you had a team with whom you could talk about almost anything, and you would share jokes that made the work day seem shorter and more pleasant. Now, at the new job, you no longer have that, instead, you have to go through an integration process which at the beginning might make you feel lonely and isolated.

Consultant mindset vs. team member mindset

“I find it very difficult to get accustomed to the work pace of the people in the new company and also with the new procedures. It takes a rather long time between the moment certain actions are agreed upon and the moment they are actually put into practice.” (N.M. business strategist)

If you already have some experience in your field of expertise, and you come after a period where you worked as a consultant/freelancer, in the beginning, you will find it’s a bit more difficult to integrate within a team. And this is mainly because you have developed a different mindset: you are able to quickly identify problems, and you want to solve them immediately. Maybe you step the gas pedal too quickly at the new job, and this might scare some of your new colleagues. If you haven’t been given clear instructions to take control and solve certain specific situations, give yourself some time during the first months at the new job to study the dynamics of the team and to understand the work processes before you propose radical changes.

Finally, even if this article was longer than you expected, I hope it will help you see that somewhere in a different corner of the world other people are going through the exact same things as you are. I know that it’s hard, but you are not alone. And if you want some advice, here it goes:

  • Take the first months on the new job as a process of (re)discovery;
  • Be yourself;
  • Get to know the people with whom you will work;
  • Whatever happens, don’t take it personally;
  • Study the organization, try to understand how it works, and ask questions;
  • If you don’t know something, be honest and communicate it, don’t lie about your qualifications;
  • Be present and open in conversations, challenge yourself to read between the lines;
  • Make peace with the fact that you don’t have control and with the fact that sometimes, you don’t know what you don’t know;
  • Don’t deny your frustration, accept it as part of the process.

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Written by Valentina Roman

Contributor

I am a digital project manager with a 360° perspective, passionate about understanding what makes projects truly successful and why. I’ve worn every hat in the communication domain: from PR to marketing, from content writing to e-commerce growth strategies, from managing volunteers to business development, from CSR campaigns to product development and AI technologies.

In my spare time, I am writing for Pluria about my experience in managing diverse teams while directly reporting to high-profile senior managers. Take your moment to read my articles as I hope you will find them useful and inspiring!

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