Aliza Licht's BLACKBOARD Episode 14:
"Congrats On Your New Job, Bummer That You Hate It"
5 Sanity and Resume-Saving Tips
It's 2017. Gone are the days when people stay at companies for decades. In fact, the millennial mindset is that of a butterfly, "Why would I stay in one place, when I can experience many and increase my salary and position as I go?" Sure, that’s one mentality. But then there's also the old-school mentality of loyalty, dedication and respect. Your company is investing in you so perhaps you should return the favor. Hey let’s face it, it's easy to quit a job, it's not so easy to fix a job.
So, when the grass looks greener somewhere else and you make that move, what happens when you arrive and realize that it's actually full of weeds and dry patches? Your instant thought process might be that you need to quit. Quitting is easy! In that moment of hate and dread, you might not care about the bridges you are burning. But you need to think about how your current job affects your future job. If you do quit suddenly, what does that look like to your next employer? A resume that looks like the departure screen at JFK airport is not a good look. In fact, it raises red flags to any legitimate employer. Instead of throwing in the towel and immediately dismissing your new job as a fail, try these five tactics to ease your transition and improve your office culture.
1. Remember that you are a foreign object: Seriously, did you expect to just stroll into a new job and instantly become part of the team? It doesn't happen that way. People don't know you. They may know your reputation, they certainly hired you for a reason (and a good one!) but you still need to ease into the team with care. You are stepping on their turf. It doesn't matter if you are a senior member of the team or a junior one, you are still shaking the apple cart! A good filter for the mindset you need to have is one of a politician. Pretend you are running for office with every person you meet (but in a sincere way). Trust me, you'll be on your best behavior. In addition, be extra cautious with your communication. Be a little more formal on email than you're used to being, making sure that your tone can't be misconstrued. Emails can be deadly so make sure to leave out the "to" section until you're positive the correspondence is good to go.
2. Hi Brain, meet OVERWHELMED: New job, new company, new team, and different processes. It's no surprise that you would be overwhelmed and sometimes when stress comes into play you can confuse being overwhelmed with your job with hating your job. Take a deep breath and get a game plan together.
Step 1: Set up meetings with all key management and stakeholders. Get an understanding of what they do and how your area was previously handled. Ask them how you can help. Everybody likes someone whose mindset is, "What can I do for YOU?"
Step 2: Make a list of your job responsibilities and then map them by frequency. How often do you need to do X or update Y? This will give you an aerial view of your job and provide better insight as to what your week should look like on a macro level. This is an extremely important step because if you get stuck in the weeds of the workload you can lose focus on the bigger picture. That's dangerous for two reasons. First, you will never have a feeling of accomplishment because you’re wasting too much time on minutia. Second, you will feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer mass of what is left to do when you’ve already spent countless hours on smaller projects.
Step 3: Schedule time on your calendar to accomplish these tasks strategically. Do not get caught in the death trap of meetings after meetings after meetings. I often block time on my calendar for desk work for this reason. In the beginning, it’s also smart to come in extra early to get a head start on the day.
3. Be a great host! Make your desk inviting and friendly by keeping a big jar of candy on it. You'll be amazed by how many people come over at around 3 pm right after they have face-planted into their keyboards. You might be thinking, it’s just candy, who cares? The point is not the candy; the point is that you are showing the people around you that you are approachable.
4. Remember to smile: It's quite often that people are perceived the wrong way because their default facial setting is emotionless. If you're shy, your quietness can easily get misconstrued as snobbery or rudeness. Keep a check on how you look to other people. A smile immediately disarms and allows others to feel more comfortable speaking to you.
5. Silence is deadly: Even though you are working your bum off, your boss might not be readily aware of everything you are working on and the efforts you are making to immerse yourself in the business. In the beginning, it's always a good idea to send a daily (junior roles) or weekly (manager level) update on your progress. Your boss will appreciate not having to ask for an update and bonus, you won't feel micro- managed.
If you do these five steps for several months and still hate your job, do some deeper digging to figure out why. Is it your boss? Is it your colleagues? Try and pinpoint the problem and then set up meetings to solve it. Whether you ask to sit with your boss to ask for feedback on your early performance or you ask a colleague for coffee to ease some tension, you are trying to salvage relationships and your work environment.
We often believe that the fault is in other people but it’s important to be self-aware too. Remember other people's perception of you is their reality whether it’s true or not. Try and think about how you interact with your colleagues in all forms of communication. If you are honest with yourself, you might actually find areas where you can improve. Communication is the key to success in any job. If you work on making yours as effective as possible you will find the job gets better with time. Of course, if after you have exhausted all options you still feel like the company is the wrong place for you, it's time to turn on your 'out of office' response...forever.
Do you want to tell me something about this post or do you want to suggest the topic of my next one? Email me at email@example.com or tweet me @AlizaLicht