06Jun

The first three months of the year are when more people start new jobs than any other time. That’s when new budgets kick in for most companies and when workers most feel the urge to change jobs.

If history is any guide, then about 16 million people will start a new job by the end of March. Most of them will experience the new job jitters, worrying if they made the right decision, anxious about making a good impression and wondering what it will be like leaving the familiar behind to venture into the unknown.

If you’re one of them, take comfort in knowing that what you’re feeling is common. LinkedIn recently noted that 80% of professionals admit to being nervous before starting a new job. (That other 20%? We suspect they just didn’t admit it.) Feeling that way is natural and no amount of advice is going to change that. Preparation and taking small steps will tamp down the jitters and help you fit in more quickly.

LinkedIn advises newcomers to ask questions instead of jumping in with ideas. You may indeed know a better process, but before you go suggesting it, observe. There may be good reasons why something is being done the way it is, so better to find that out and avoid being shot down.

Fast Company article puts it this way, “Show respect for and follow your manager’s and coworkers’ advice, even on little things. Check out how your colleagues tackle workplace culture and politics, to get a vibe from the environment.”

However, if you know how to unjam the copier, by all means volunteer. That will make you an instant new friend.

Fast Company also recommends you begin building relationships as soon as you walk in the door. The busier the office, the more people you’ll meet those first few days, which makes remembering who’s who difficult. So adopt that time-honored networking technique by using their name immediately — “Pleased to meet you, Debra” not just “Pleased to meet you.” If you can associate the name with a personal characteristic, it will aid your recall.

Later, make an effort to strike up a conversation with your new colleagues. Asking questions about office procedures is an obvious and innocuous way to start one. If you’re invited to lunch, go.

Another tip is to meet with your new boss as soon as possible for a one-on-one. You want to find out what’s expected of you, where you can go for help and support, and how you’ll be measured. You may have asked some of these questions during the interview. But that was then. Now you’ll need to get more specific and detailed.

There’s no question starting a new job is stressful: 42% of us worry we won’t like; 32% worry our new boss or co-workers won’t like us; and, 55% of us worry we won’t be good enough fast enough. But taking small steps at first, asking questions, rather than showing what you know, and letting your manager know you care about doing the job they expect will earn you respect and support and get you started off on the right foot.

Image by Werner Heiber

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Green Key

Do You Really Want to Be a Manager?

It’s flattering to be offered a management promotion. It shows the confidence your boss has in you, and the bump in your paycheck would certainly be welcome.

But before you say yes, take a deep breath and think about what it means. Not everyone wants to be a manager. Not everyone who is a manager should be one.

Being a manager comes with dramatically different responsibilities. Instead of being responsible only for yourself, as a manager you’re responsible for the work of a team. You’ll be dealing with different personalities and styles. You’ll face pressure from your boss to meet a whole range of new measures. Besides getting projects done on deadline, there will be budget considerations and quality standards. At the same time, you’ll hear from your reports about being pushed too hard or not getting the resources they insist they need.

You’ll be expected to coach your team, supporting them and giving them the feedback they need and want. At times, that means delivering feedback about poor performance. As a CNN Business article points out, you have to sometimes be willing to be seen as the guy delivering bad news.

Says Leigh Steere, co-founder of research group Managing People Better, “The No. 1 task that managers shy away from is confronting poor performance.

“They may be conflict avoidant. Some say ‘I’m not comfortable judging others.’ Or they want to be viewed as a nice manager. [But] it is not nice to withhold feedback from somebody that they need to learn and grow.”

The skills it takes to be a great manager are far different from those of being a great worker. Too often companies promote great workers because they perform at the top of the curve, only to discover that as a manager their performance is lacking at which point their rise in the organization halts — or worse.

While management training can make a difference, too often this training is limited to legal issues and administrative procedures. Even when the training includes coaching and feedback and similar matters, it takes constant reinforcement and personal commitment to be effective.

So when the opportunity comes along, think it through. Ask managers you respect for advice. Discuss with your boss the changes you’ll need to make. Then ask yourself, are you willing to give up what you do in order to manage others? Is that you?

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

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Green Key