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The 3 things Guaranteed to happen when you start a new job

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

If you’re starting a new job, these are the three things to understand and accept…

  1. You will forget 80% of what you’re told in the first week. When we start a new job, we will not take in most of the information we are presented. This isn’t because we are forgetful. This happens because we start a new job with a fresh ‘schema’ in our memories that we attach new information to. It’s all about context. To start with, we won’t always know how to sift what information is important and relevant from information that is trivial and immaterial. Particularly when you come across a multitude of acronyms and internal language that means nothing to the outside world. We have to make our own judgments – based on previous experiences and our presumptions. We will also look for information that confirms what we believe, and discard the rest. Accept that this happens and use a system for logging information that you don’t know it’s importance or relevance yet, before discarding it. The old-fashioned way is pen and notepad, which is probably the most efficient too, to start with. You could try reviewing your notes at the end of each day to identify where you need to gather more information by asking questions. And after a couple of weeks, you will see how this information fits into the overall context. If not, discard it.
  2. Interactions are not ‘normal’. New job – new co-workers. These people tend to be polite, but cautious. You’re at that stage of ‘sussing each other out’. Don’t expect people to be open yet. Your perceptions about people are likely to change as you learn to work together. Often, when starting a new job, it would appear that a few people are hostile or uncooperative, when in fact they’re just guarded. Accept that this is how it goes, and after a while of working together – building trust and comradery – this will change. Until I reach that point, I don’t make rash decisions that these people will cause me trouble. On the flip-side, I sometimes find that co-workers can be really nice and helpful at first, but withdraw. This happens for a number of reasons, but the common explanations are that these people start with expectations that they subsequently discover that can’t be met by myself; these people are opportunistic and see you as a newbie to push their own agenda; or that these people are genuinely welcoming to new people but then the novelty wears off and you become part of the human-furniture in their workplace. This happens, and I am cool with that. Above all, we should be ourselves and not try to moderate our behaviors too much to fit into an environment we haven’t got the measure of yet!
  3. You will be constantly assessing yourself, co-workers and your job against pre-conceptions. Even if you start with an ‘open mind’, the first few days will be a constant assessment. You will be measuring how you behave towards others, how other people behave towards you, and the interactions between other people. You started having been sold a vision of your new environment, and up until you started, you will have elaborated this vision with your own desires and fears. When your experiences confirm what your vision, you will feel confident and positive. When your experiences are wildly out, this can lead to stress, uncertainty and disappointment. It’s real important to accept that this happens and just roll with it, and don’t be disheartened: because points (1) and (2) explain that what you perceive now is unlikely to be the truth!

Have you started a new job?

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About the author /


Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Applied Change, a Business Change consultancy based in the UK. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development.

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