I have a friend who left a position as the Executive Director of a visitors and convention bureau to take a job in healthcare administration. To say the switch in industries was going to be a culture shock would be an understatement. Regardless, he is a bright and ambitious person, so off he went. About a year later, we ran into each other at a networking event and when I asked him how the new role was going, his response was memorable: “A year later and I just figured out where the bathrooms are.”
It’s never easy to start a new role, no matter how much of a seasoned professional you are. There are new processes and procedures to learn, new skills, possibly new people, work-flow, and goals to work toward and the sum total can leave you reeling. So the question becomes, how do you keep from feeling overwhelmed or discouraged when you find yourself going through it. The next few tips can help you ease your mind so that you can find your flow quicker and with less overall stress.
Take Your Time. So you’ve probably heard that “slow and steady wins the race.” The irony here is that there is no race, although it can feel like everything around you is moving one million miles a minute. People asking questions you don’t have answers to, meetings about things you’ve never heard of before, and deadlines that seem to have suddenly piled up on you can add to this overwhelming feeling that everything needs to be done yesterday. Here’s the trick- slow down. Pacing yourself each day with meaningful goals and tasks can help clear the cluttered feeling and give you more peace of mind as you’re getting acquainted with your new endeavor.
Build Relationships. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you do, take time to network with the people that you’ll be working with. Engage in conversation, have lunch or coffee, or just catch up in the cafeteria. Ask questions such as “What’s the most rewarding thing about what you do here?” or “What hobbies do you have outside of work?” and you’ll be surprised what you can learn about someone. Remember that being the new kid on the block isn’t just something you’re experiencing; your co-workers are also getting used to a new person.
Ask Questions. No, you’re not in the wrong job if you have to ask questions. You’ll find yourself needing direction and guidance as you begin your new adventure. Author and well known coach Tony Robbins says, “It’s not your lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” Learn where your resources are and be aware of the ones you already have. In addition to asking questions as they arise, you might also want to keep a notepad close by and jot down questions as they come up. With your list of accumulated questions, you can now request a few minutes of time with the right people and get many things resolved at once.
Forgive Yourself. It’s time to be real- you’re not superhuman and you’re not the single most intelligent person in the world. You’re going to make mistakes along the way and its absolutely okay. In fact, letting your co-workers know that you are aware you are going to make mistakes will make it easier for them (and you) to help by offering reminders and feedback on the things you’re doing. Be open though… feedback is exactly that, and it should be received as such regardless as to how well the other person is at expressing it. Take everything as an opportunity to learn and grow and forgive yourself when needed.
Disconnect. I don’t care how dedicated you are to your job, you absolutely must take time to disconnect and maintain balance in the other aspects of life. That means some deep breathing, finding time for yourself as well as with family and friends, and letting yourself be okay with walking away for a while each day to focus on the other things in life that matter. Without balance, life can present us with unfavorable consequesces, so it’s up to you to make sure that you’re not overdoing it.
Shawn Neal is a consultant, trainer, and speaker focused on emotional intelligence, leadership, and happiness. His work helps maximize employee engagement, customer service, profit and growth while attracting and retaining top talent. For more information, visit saxus.net