Six Strategies for Starting a New Job

By Donna Cardillo, RN, MA

Congratulations! You’ve just landed a new job and are gearing up for your first day. You’re feeling a mixture of excitement and apprehension as you wonder how you will fit in, what your new coworkers will be like, and what new knowledge and skills you’ll need to acquire to do well. Follow these seven steps to make a smooth transition.

1. Listen and learn. Be more of an observer in your first few weeks. This is not the time to show-off how much you know. Rather, see what you can learn from your new coworkers. Observe how things work, including how the staff interacts with one another and the boss. Learn about common procedures and systems, work flow, etc. Most workplaces have many unwritten rules of behavior and ways to do things. Ask questions as appropriate and don’t ever say, “We didn’t do it that way at my old job.”

2. Introduce yourself. Go out of your way to meet people in your new workplace — especially in your new department. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Approach others, extend your hand, and introduce yourself. Make an effort to learn people’s names. Smile often, make eye contact, and be friendly.

3. Start reading. Read everything available about your new job. Hopefully you’ve been given an employee handbook. Familiarize yourself with compensation and benefits information, policies for requesting time off or calling in sick, and more. Check out the policy and procedure manual in your department. Learn and follow the rules of your new workplace.

4. Get involved. Once your orientation is over, look for ways to be more visible. Join a committee, volunteer for a special project, or offer to represent your employer at an outside recruitment or other event. This is a great way to get to know others and they you. It demonstrates that you’re a team player, gives you more visibility within the department and the organization, and can make work more interesting and fun.

5. Be social. Find out where and when your new coworkers gather during off-hours and breaks and make it a point to show up occasionally. It shows that you’re friendly and making an effort to be part of the team. Listen to others and ask them questions about themselves. Be ready to reveal a bit about yourself, too, so others get to know you. You can often learn more about the culture of your new workplace outside of work. Steer clear of cliques and gossip mongers.

6. Become a stakeholder. I’m not suggesting that you buy stock in your new company; rather, learn everything you can about your new employer. Visit the company website and familiarize yourself with its full scope of services, locations, etc. Read corporate literature, annual reports, and marketing materials. All this will help you to develop a sense of belonging, ownership, and pride. The more you can identify with your employer and its mission, the more you’ll enjoy your job.

By making a little extra effort, you’ll shorten your assimilation time, decrease your anxiety, and increase your acceptance into your new “family.”

Copyright Gannett Healthcare Group (www.nurse.com). All rights reserved. Used with permission.