3 Steps to Take if You're Still Struggling to Settle Into a Not-So-New Job
You need time to settle into a new job. And most, if not all, employers know that. You have lots of pesky HR paperwork to fill out. You have a lot of people to meet. And you have all the little quirks about the company that make it the unique place you couldn’t wait to go to work for. But let’s be honest—if your position still feels “new” after a while, a few things need to change—quickly.
The good news? You can make these things happen more easily than you might think. Here are three things you should do if you still feel like every day at work is your first day.
1. If the Company Itself Still Feels New, Treat a Teammate to Lunch
Let’s start with something easy. Except if your job still feels new after six months, nothing feels easy, right? You’ve been to the kitchen a million times, and you’re still not sure where the coffee pods are actually located. You’ve attended your share of team meetings, and you can’t quite grasp the company’s goals. And you’ve failed to find the shared drive on your computer, no matter how many times you’ve tried.
The solution? Find a member of your team you feel comfortable(ish) around, treat that person to lunch, and pick his or her brain about whatever you’re still uncertain about.
Seems scary, right? Well, unless you’ve joined a team full of robots, the people you work with are probably much friendlier than you realize. So ask one, or two or three, out to lunch. When I did this at a previous position, I learned how to operate the coffee machine, where to find a decent grilled chicken sandwich, and more importantly—what the company I was with actually stood for. If I hadn’t asked, I would have never learned those things. And even worse, I wouldn’t have known it was OK to ask at future stops in my career.
2. If Your Duties Still Feel New, Level With Your Boss
This one’s tough. And what makes it even worse is that you know you’re smart enough to do the job. But for one reason or another, sometimes new duties trip us up. However, if you’re still feeling unsure about your daily to-do list, it’s time to set up an uncomfortable meeting with your boss.
You might be thinking this sounds crazy. I mean, sure. Tell your manager you have no idea what’s going on every day? That would probably be a bad idea if you’re not trying at all. But, if you’ve put in a lot of effort and still need some additional help, that’s OK. And if this is the case, your boss likely already knows and will be happy you’re taking the initiative to have that uncomfortable conversation.
Unless this person’s the absolute worst, he or she will be able to fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge. Or point you toward some training materials that will help you improve. Or, even sit down with you one afternoon and explain a process more clearly. Feel things out, of course, but do yourself a favor and don’t keep it to yourself.
3. If Your Workspace Still Feels New, Do Some Decorating
This might seem silly, but there’s just something about an empty desk that feels cold and unwelcoming. I’m also a firm believer that if you don’t allow yourself to decorate your workspace a bit, you’re also letting yourself believe that you won’t be there for very long because you don’t belong. Obviously that’s not true, so once you’ve filled out all that HR paperwork in your first week or so, make your desk your own.
If you’re afraid of what your new (but really, old) co-workers will think of you once you do this, consider what you’d find if you were to visit me at work. I have a few really weird bobbleheads, some old baseball cards that I bought pretty recently, and a Nerf gun. I am a really big nerd. And even though I really want everyone I meet to think I’m really cool, the truth is that I’m not. Letting your weird out, even just a little bit, will make everything about your job seem more normal, I promise.
Settling into any new job is hard, no matter how excited you are about starting. However, if you’re not fully up and running after six months, take matters into your own hands. Unless it was written into your offer letter that the company would hold your hand for as long as you need them to, you’ll need to make an effort to settle in. But you were sharp enough to get the job, so clearly you’re smart enough to figure out what needs to change and make those adjustments to feel at home.
Photo of new desk courtesy of Death to Stock.
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.More from this Author