How to adapt to a new work environment
WITH MALATI MARLENE SHINAZY
MED, VOLUNTEER WITH THE SOCIETY FOR HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT HAWAII CHAPTER, STRATEGIC CONSULTANT AND FACILITATOR WITH PACIFIC LEADERSHIP CONSULTANTS IN HAWAII
Whenever you enter a new job, you are stepping into uncharted territory. Every work group, over time, creates a unique culture. Culture can be defined simply as: Rules for survival and success, developed by a group of people. Most of these “rules” are unwritten. Employees who have worked with each other for some time understand and feel at ease in the culture because they know the rules. New employees must learn the rules of the culture. Besides knowing the skills of your job, learn about your work group’s culture by paying attention to how people act toward each other. Those are the unwritten cultural rules.
Q: I’m a supervisor and I still don’t feel accepted by my co-workers. I’ve been here six months already. What should I do?
A: Some workplaces accept new employees more slowly than others, regardless of their role. It is common for people to want to be with others who are like them. They do not even realize they are creating an “insider vs. outsider” culture.
Build relationships with your co-workers one person at a time by finding something thing you have in common. And, when the next new employee comes onboard, actively make them feel like part of the group.
Q: I can’t stand the gossiping at my new job. Everyone knows everybody else’s business and I don’t want my life to be an open book for all to read. Won’t I be alienated if I opt out?
A: Gossip is common in some workplaces. Now that you know this, set your boundaries about what you are willing to share. You also have the right to say, “I’m really not comfortable talking about others but I’d really like to talk to you about this new product.” Then change the direction of the conversation toward something more productive and comfortable for you.
Q: How long will it take to adjust to a new workplace?
A: The answer is different for everyone and every workplace. Take your time. Keep your eyes and ears open so that you can adapt more readily.