Are you currently changing your job and wondering how you will get on with new colleagues? Whether you have decades of work experience or you are starting out in your first job, you might be concerned about how well you will fit into your new team. If you have found teamwork slightly challenging in the past, you might naturally feel worried when joining a new work environment.
Most of us would agree that stepping into a new job is an exciting experience. You might look forward to working in a different professional field, receiving career development opportunities or being able to travel through work. Most people expect themselves to settle in quickly and to feel fully part of the team within days.
Give yourself time
It normally takes a few weeks for people to get to know their new colleagues. Do allow yourself plenty of time and do not feel discouraged if you feel like an outsider at times.
Sue has recently started a new job working for the Careers Department of a university, located in the Southeast of England. Sue spent close to 18 years in her previous job. Moving into a new position was a significant change for her. Sue felt very uncomfortable in the first few days, and she was even thinking about leaving at times. She made the decision not to jump to conclusions about her colleagues and gave herself at least a month before considering whether to stay or possibly change.
However, as time passed, Sue started to feel more at ease with others. She joined coffee meetings, attended workshops, and initiated some conversations with her team members. Within a few weeks, she started to get on well with her colleagues. Over time, Sue has got to know her team and she is now delighted to work in her role.
Put yourself in other people’s shoes
It can be helpful to put yourself in others’ shoes and try to see the world from their perspective. Your colleagues could have found it hard to let your predecessor go. If they had a cohesive team and people worked harmoniously for a long time, your team find it difficult to accept change.
Have you ever made a negative judgment of somebody at a first impression and later found yourself to be close friends with that person? Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found that it takes a tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger. Try not to jump to conclusions about others’ characteristics and instead take the time to learn about each of your colleagues.
Listen and learn
If you are coming from a similar role, you might have lots of solutions. You might be full of creative new ideas regarding how the team could work better. You might spot working approaches which are not effective. You might be tempted to quickly jump in and try to fix as many things as you possibly can, straight away.
You might however find it helpful to take note of your ideas, suggestions and improvement points. These could all be very valuable at a later point. Initially, however, it might be best to devote time to learning, listening, and gathering knowledge. Once you have a reasonably good understanding of the written and unwritten rules, those initial ideas might be very useful.
Have you been invited to coffee meetings? Are there any social work events you could participate in? Are there any courses, workshops, or training events you could attend? Try to go along to as many as you possibly can. Do remember to introduce yourself to others who work in different departments.
Embrace the challenges
Teamwork has many benefits. People can inspire, motivate and encourage each other, share knowledge and brainstorm creative ideas. It can increase morale, contribute to better productivity, and also gives people a sense of belonging. However, working in teams could be a challenge for many. There might be competition between members. You might discover signs of low morale, personality clashes, frustration, and conflict. People might have different communication styles, values, and different ways of working. Team members may come from a range of cultural, geographic, educational or professional backgrounds. Whilst a diverse team is more likely to come up with out-of-the-box ideas, communication issues are more likely to crop up in diverse teams.
When you join a new team, do ask questions, and learn about expectations. You could try some of the below questions:
- What is the overall purpose of the project/ teamwork?
- What should you be particularly aware of?
- What are some of the expectations and the required results?
- How would you measure success?
- Who is leading the project/ team?
- What are some of the key challenges to overcome?
Reflect on your progress
According to the University of Rochester, journalling can help you cope with anxiety, reduce stress, and enjoy better mental health and well-being. You could devote a few minutes daily to writing down your thoughts. You might experience a mix of emotions, thoughts, or concerns. Writing down your innermost feelings could help you to see the situation from different perspectives and to see your situation more objectively. You could use a notebook just for journaling. You could draw or write freely. You could jot down ideas, things you find challenging, questions you would like to ask others or surprising things you have discovered.
Individual coaching could also help you express your thoughts. A skilled coach could listen to you carefully, act as a soundboard, ask you some reflective questions and help you come up with solutions. A coach could keep you accountable and encourage you when you are going through challenges. A coach could help you to set goals as well as some milestones in your journey. They could help you develop some soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and time management. You might like to find out if your organisation offers in-house coaching. Alternatively, you could hire an external coach to work with you on a regular basis.
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