How we enter an organization is critically important. In a recent blog post about my first day of work (entitled “Day One”) I discussed some things to think about as you embark on a new professional endeavor.
45 days later I have started to reflect on the transition-what worked, what didn’t and what I might do differently next time.
1) Say yes as much a possible: Whether it’s to listen in at a meeting, join a group of colleagues for coffee, volunteer at an event outside of your department, or attend a goodbye party for an employee you barely know, accept each invitation as an opportunity to learn campus culture and build your new network.
Saying “yes” has helped me to understand institutional context, start to build collegial relationships and learn about new resources within the outside community. “Yes” can be a little scary when you are still learning your job but what it is has taught me is that I always have something (no matter how small) to contribute and it has allowed me to become more confident in new situations.
On day 17 Of the new job I was asked to attend and speak at an Admissions event to a group of VIP’s. While initially nervous (what if I don’t know the answers to their questions??) I accepted the invitation and was amazed at the fantastic conversation that unfolded and how naturally everything worked out. It didn’t matter that I had been there 17 days. It mattered that I was invested enough to show up, to engage and to connect.
2) Take stock of your victories each day: If you follow me on social media you may often see my posts that ask you to list your victory of the day. Since I started the position I have listed my top 3 victories at the end of each day as a way for me to chart my progress in the role. On days that are especially challenging it is so incredibly helpful for me to see at least a few tangible pieces of success. Transition is hard. Celebrate your success each day and it becomes much more manageable!
3) Focus on the current success of the team: Note and celebrate what the department is doing exceptionally well. Too often new people come in with a checklist of what to change without recognizing the programs and processes that are thriving. Show respect for what is done well and it can help inform how future change can also have that level of success.
4) Adapt, try and experience: These are three of the words I say to myself everyday. Hiking and biking in Oregon are what shopping and eating are in Chicago, so I am doing my best to push my own comfort level and try new things. We ask our students to take risks in order to learn and grow all the time-I’m making sure to practice what I preach as much as possible.
5) Invite and include: Just because I am new it doesn’t mean I can’t create opportunities for folks to come together both inside or outside of work. I often will ask colleagues to go on a walk with me over lunch. If I decide to run a race I encourage others to join me. I am the only one responsible for building my own community. My transitional success will largely depend on my ability to build relationships and it is on me (as the person coming into the community) to invite and include people as much as possible.
6) Lean on your established community of support as needed: Some days are tough. I had to “phone a friend” one day in the grocery store on a particularly challenging Saturday. I set up Skype calls monthly with a couple of people who know exactly what I need to hear and will give me unfiltered love and guidance. The hardest part is knowing that your new community doesn’t have the context for who you are as a person and so you have to put in the work and effort to build trust and establish relationships in ways that may have been effortlessly comfortable at your previous institution. What I know for sure is that this time and effort is worth it.
I am mindful that I can never get this time back so there is no room for slacking, whining, frustration, etc. This is the time and the space to learn, celebrate, create and include.
Are you new to a position this year? What tips would you give to new employees? Share them here!