New job remorse: 3 tips for handling struggles with a new position

Starting a new job usually involves some anxiety and feelings of uncertainty. Consider this advice to counter the negative feelings and find your way
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You open your brand-new laptop, register your new email address, and update your LinkedIn profile. You introduce yourself to coworkers and try to get acquainted with everyone. You’re navigating the maze called “onboarding,” slowly figuring out your place in the new environment. Then anxiety creeps in: “Did I do the right thing in taking this new job? I feel like a fish out of water. What if this wasn’t the right move?”

3 common scenarios in a new role and how to handle them

Okay, deep cleansing breath. While it will take time to know whether the new job lives up to your expectations, let’s look at some tips to address some common issues that make a new working environment challenging, especially in the first three to six months.

Scenario 1: You feel out of place

Solution: Adopt a learning mindset

Remind yourself that this feeling is normal – it takes a while to find your footing. But what if you’re the first new hire to join a well-established team in a few years? You might be feeling a bit like the outlier in the “Sesame Street” game One of These Things Is Not Like the Others.

If you’re bringing a new set of skills or expertise to the team, don’t make the mistake of trying to fit in by expounding on your experience or telling them how they should do things going forward. You’ll feel even more out of place if your new colleagues think you’re a know-it-all.

[ Want more leadership advice for the challenges of the new year? Read 4 soft skills leaders will need in 2022. ]

The best way to fit in is to take a learning mindset. Be curious – ask coworkers about their work, experience, successes, difficulties, hopes, and ideas. Ideally, your manager has scheduled meetings to introduce you to coworkers, but if not, be proactive and reach out directly. Ask for in-person meetings if possible and take time to get to know them.

This process might take longer if everyone is remote, but don’t give up. Ask your manager if you can schedule in-person meetings, online team-building sessions, and other opportunities to socialize.

Be curious – ask coworkers about their work, experience, successes, difficulties, hopes, and ideas.

Scenario 2: The culture isn't what you thought it would be

Solution: Be honest with your manager

Naturally, people put forward their best selves in interviews. Interviewers are selling the company and position; you’re selling yourself. You can try to get a read on company culture in advance, but you likely won’t find out what it’s really like until you get past the honeymoon phase.

What if you find that the new workplace culture differs from your expectations – and not in a good way? Instead of feeling anxious and confused – or worse, duped and angry – set up a meeting to discuss the disconnect with your manager. Offer examples of what you were told versus what you’re experiencing. Ask for feedback on your perception and if your manager acknowledges the problems, ask how you can help solve them.

On the hiring side, managers should be honest during the interview process. If they are trying to change company culture, they should state that in interviews, including describing their goals and what actions they’re implementing to achieve those goals.

Scenario 3: You feel lost or overwhelmed

Solution: Ask thoughtful questions

Onboarding at large enterprises typically takes at least a month and the ramp-up period can take up to six months. The process might go more quickly at startups, but the lack of structure can be even more disorienting.

In the first 30 days, a good way to find your place is to meet everyone on your team and related teams. Here are a few simple questions to get started:

  • “What can I do to make your life easier?” Try to leave every meeting with something concrete you can do to improve your team’s productivity.
  • “What materials are most important to read/watch, and who are the most important people to meet?” Understanding the “social network” can help you figure out the intricacies and nuances of the organization.
  • “What are the broad goals for the team and the company? What are the goals for this quarter and half of the year?” Getting clear expectations from the leadership team is key to your success.

Once you have some clarity, do some easy starter projects to get a feeling of how things work and to build trust. You can also document the journey of ramping up for future new hires.

What other aspects of transitioning to a new job have you struggled with? We’d love to hear from you.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Kate Yuan is a startup consultant with a focus on go-to-market strategies and enterprise sales. She has worked with startups in four continents and 30+ countries as an investor, advisor, and operator. Most recently, she was the Operating Partner at Hemi Ventures, an early-stage fund investing in mobility, biotech and enterprise AI sectors.
Lori Dernavich is a Leadership Development Advisor with two decades of experience in advising high tech, deep tech, and life sciences executives. She works with Fortune 500 leaders and startup founders to develop the leadership skills they and their organizations need to be successful.

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