Whether you’re moving to a new company or starting to work for yourself, new situations can be overwhelming. Running your own business brings its own set of challenges, and becoming a business owner is very different from working for other people.
If you’re starting a new job, chances are you’ve already had a positive experience with the hiring manager. But on your first day, you’ll want to impress the rest of the team. First impressions are lasting, and showing up prepared on your first day – positive attitude included – can set the tone for the rest of your tenure.
There are many valid reasons, both personal and professional, for leaving a job. Maybe the position doesn’t challenge you the way it used to. Maybe the work environment is toxic. Maybe you’re being underpaid. Maybe you’re not following your passion. Whatever the cause, you’re not alone in looking for something new. The “Great Resignation” saw record numbers of people leaving their jobs for new opportunities, and this forced companies to rethink what work looks like.
Hopefully, these seven tips will make the transition to your new position a little smoother.
1. Confirm Expectations.
In the early days of your new position, you and your manager should meet to discuss mutual expectations. These can include understanding how the two of you will work together, finding resources to answer questions that may arise, and how your job performance will be assessed. Typically, you’ve already interviewed with your direct manager and discussed these expectations during the hiring process, but it’s important to reestablish them once you’re in the new job.
If you’re starting a business and working for yourself, these expectations will look different. They could focus more on specific goals you have, like taking on four new clients, making 10 sales, or launching your website.
2. Ask Questions.
Every workplace runs differently. You were hired because of the skills you have, but no one should expect you to understand exactly how this new job operates right away. Don't be afraid to ask your manager and colleagues for clarification and direction when you need it. Write down questions you may have during moments that don’t allow for interruptions – effective managers will set aside time for check-ins during the early days to answer your questions.
3. Seek Feedback.
In the first days at a new position, there may not be much work to give feedback on, but that’ll change once the onboarding process is completed. By proactively seeking feedback, you’re demonstrating to your manager that you value self-improvement. Instead of questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no, ask open-ended questions that promote discussion. Some questions you can ask include:
- Who should I be working with more closely on the team?
- From your point of view, what are my greatest strengths?
- What skills should I develop to improve my work performance?
- Am I meeting and exceeding expectations?
If you’re working for yourself, feedback will often come from customers. If you work directly with clients, asking for feedback can involve a performance survey and rating your interpersonal skills. If your new position is sales-based, allow customers to leave reviews on their purchases.
4. Be Flexible – But Set Boundaries.
Flexibility is an important skill to master, whether it means having the ability to overcome stress or simply to adjust to changes quickly. Flexibility in the workplace often looks like “taking one for the team” ‒ taking on more work, staying late, and going the extra mile. This all shows that you’re dedicated to your job. But don’t let it burn you out. While cooperation is important, setting boundaries at work allows you to maintain your mental and physical health.
When working for yourself, it can be easy to blur the line between home and work, since you’re likely working from home in the first place. To combat this, set aside specific time during the day to work, just like you would at an office job.
5. Get to Know Potential Mentors.
Mentors don’t have to be older and wiser; they just need to know the company and be able to help guide you during your time there. This can be a bit trickier if your role is fully remote, but someone being responsive to your questions is a fairly good indicator of a possible mentor. And developing a trusted relationship will make you feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know your new workplace.
6. Keep Positive.
According to a study from recruiting firm Robert Half, 91% of employees consider quitting their jobs within the first month. Keeping a positive mindset can not only improve self-esteem and feelings of worthiness and success but also reduce mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, stress. New jobs come with unexpected challenges, but staying positive can ensure long-term success in your new position.
7. Take Care of Yourself.
Give yourself extra time to relax when you’re first starting out. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s new and forget to take a second to breathe. Practicing self-care in the workplace can reduce stress and even improve performance. Focusing on self-care at work can help balance productivity with the need to support our physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
The Bottom Line
Starting a new job can be intimidating, especially if you’re changing career paths completely. Many entrepreneurs will experience “imposter syndrome,” which is totally normal. Remember: You’re completely capable of doing the work you’ve set out to do ‒ and if it’s aligned with your values and your heart, you’ll have laid a solid foundation for a successful and fulfilling career.