4 Things You Can Do to Make Your First Week at a New Job Feel Less Awkward
Starting a job is a really exciting time for anyone, at any point in a career. But getting settled on a new team at a new company is often a difficult task. Not only are you dealing with a different work environment, you’re also dealing with a lot of people on a lot of unfamiliar teams. And after your first day, you just want everyone to know who you are and trust you so that you can really get started on the projects you were hired to tackle.
While making yourself feel comfortable will take some work, here are a few things you can do to get acclimated faster.
1. Invite Your Boss to Lunch
It’s tempting to spend the first few days at a new job by yourself. Mostly because it’s a lot easier than putting yourself out there. Plus, you have a ton of stuff to get through—like figuring out what health plan you want, or how to rollover your 401K. However, I’m going to suggest something a little crazy—and depending on who you are, a lot uncomfortable.
Instead of waiting around for someone (anyone!) to invite you to grab food, take matters into your own hands and invite your boss at some point during your first week. If he or she isn’t available, that’s totally fine. But then ask someone else on your team who’s free, instead.
One, the fact you even asked shows your colleagues you’re someone who wants to get to know the team as well as someone who takes action. Two, the more people you know, and the more names you can attach faces to, the better you’ll feel when you walk into the office each day.
2. Schedule One-on-One Meetings With Everyone on Your Team
This one was tough for me to wrap my mind around at first. However, in my current job, I made a point of setting up quick one-on-one chats with every single person on my team. And in all honesty, they felt really weird at first.
To make them a little less strange, I went into each one aiming to get the answers to three simple questions: What are you working on right now? What are you interested in when you’re not at work? And how can my work make your life a little easier?
And something really awesome happened after these informal meetings were in the books—I got assigned to some exciting projects really quickly because everyone saw that I was making an effort to settle in. And when I dove into those projects, it was comforting for me to know that I was a valuable member of the team—even though I hadn’t been with the company for very long.
3. Make an Effort to Start Conversations in the Kitchen
I get it—when you’re just starting out at a company, every trip to the kitchen for a cup of coffee seems like the biggest ordeal ever. Not only are the people on your team new, snack breaks expose you to everyone. And that can be really, really uncomfortable.
But here’s the thing: You’ll probably be working cross-functionally with a lot of the people you’ll see around the office every day. So take a leap and introduce yourself to a few people. Even if all you do is learn a few names to start, this is a great way to get comfortable in your new job sooner rather than later.
Oh, and if you’re someone who overthinks small talk, here are a few conversation starters that’ll help you out.
4. Be Willing to Try New Things
No matter how much you liked certain things about your old company, your new team’s culture will probably be different in a number of ways. And more often than not, that’s a good thing. However, it’s easy to default to behaviors that were acceptable in a previous role simply because they feel familiar.
But if you’re looking to settle into your new job quickly, don’t hold onto those things too tightly. Let’s say the last company you worked for was a rigid 9-to-5 environment, and your new one encourages people to take extended lunchtime walks to stay active. Stepping out of the office in the middle of the workday might make you feel like you’re breaking all sorts of rules, but if that kind of thing’s acceptable in your new gig, be bold and give it a shot.
The more you let go of our old routines and try out a few new ones, the easier it’ll be to embrace other, bigger changes. Plus, you get bonus points for doing anything that involves meeting more people.
Starting a new job is always going to make you feel uneasy, especially when all you want to do is make things feel normal. And even though I know these things can make you feel comfortable right away, I also know none of these will work after just one attempt.
But, if you’re willing to put yourself out there from day one, you’ll settle into your new position faster than you ever imagined.
Photo of co-workers courtesy of Shutterstock.
About The Author
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.