You expect to feel angry when fired from a job you enjoy.
You expect to feel scared when laid off from a job at which you felt secure.
You don’t, however, expect to feel rotten one week after you intentionally make a career move from a job you’ve outgrown to one that promises to be challenging and rewarding. So, why do so many people feel rattled during their first week on a new job?
A sudden job change takes you from a job and company — in which you know who’s who and what’s what — and throws you into situations you need to navigate without a clear road map. Before you have the chance to learn your new employer’s unwritten rules, including who to trust and who might take things the wrong way, you face job challenges that often require you to make judgment calls.
The experience resembles the danger that looms in front of a circus performer who lets go of one trapeze before catching the second. No matter how confident, most job changers wonder at least briefly, “Will I be the one out of 100 who doesn’t catch the second trapeze?”
If you recently changed jobs and feel a slight “What have I done and am I up to this?” uneasiness, here are five strategies to help you gain a firm grip on the new job’s “trapeze.”
Avoid comparing your present job to your old one
When you compare, you divide your focus between the old and the new — when you need to concentrate attention on the new environment to accelerate your learning.
Keep your eye on the new ball game
A surprising number of job changers — particularly those who step from technical or employee roles into supervisory roles, or receive promotions within their current companies — seek the comfort of their former job duties when the going gets rough in their new positions. Those who slide backwards into former duties steal the hours they need to succeed in their new job and expend them on the familiar. If backsliding beckons you, fast-forward in your mind to a time six months from now. Which will help you more: spending hours doing the duties you already know or learning the challenging new duties essential to your upgraded position?
You need to choose
Do you plan to adopt your new organization’s practices or, instead, expect others to learn to work in the ways you find most familiar? Many of us bring old methods into new positions, forgetting that we gain if we learn new ways in which to operate.
As an example, those of us who like to talk things through often find it irritating when our new bosses and co-workers prefer to email instructions. Frustrated, we complain, “There’s no dialogue here,” and miss the fact that our new co-workers produce more by avoiding needless conversations. Regrettably, by expecting our new supervisor and co-workers to conform to our former ways of doing things, we proclaim ourselves a square object hoping to find happiness in a round location. We need to realize we can be the very best player in a game no longer played or we can learn the rules of the new game.
When things don’t work out easily, some employees let self-doubting self-talk take over. “I’ll never be able to figure this out,” they tell themselves. “The person who hired me is probably, right now, cursing the moment they hired me.” If you let self-criticism flood your brainwaves, you dilute your ability to tackle your new challenge.
Commit yourself to working harder than you have before
Learning takes time. Winners in any game commit to learning the basics and spend hours practicing on their own. Losers expect success to be handed to them.
Do you hope to excel in your new job, yet find yourself wondering whether you can grasp the trapeze handle? Make the decision today to focus your attention forward, fully committing yourself to the new game.
Have a workplace question for Lynne? Email her at email@example.com with subject “SheKnows” and she may answer your question (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.