WASHINGTON, January 22, 2015 – It is ironic, but after employees land their dream job, they are often at a loss as to how to smoothly transition into their new position.
Transitioning into a new job is rarely discussed, but if you think about it, how a new employee moves into his new role will likely determine whether or not he stays.
There are several aspects to transitioning.
First, there is the organizational culture.
When a new employee begins her new job, she must not resist the company’s culture; she must adapt to it. In the future, when she becomes a key official, she can modify the company’s culture if she chooses. Initially, however, she must adapt to it. If she does not, she will receive negative attention.
Negative attention comes in many forms. One form is mistreatment by other employees. This too comes in many forms from minimal rudeness all the way to torment and sabotage.
Once a new employee receives bad treatment by other employees, it may be impossible to develop advocates in the company. A negative reputation is hard to turn around. Therefore, adapting to the organization’s culture is transition step number one.
Next, a new employee must learn what is expected of them in terms of job performance. On its face, this may seem obvious, but it is not. For example, in some companies there is an unwritten rule that states “all employees who arrive at work before the official start time is superior.” In this work environment, all early-to-work employees are looked upon favorably and employees who are late or even on time, are perceived as “lazy or lacking in initiative.”
There are many aspects of job performance that are not written. Different supervisors may have different expectations. Different customers may also have different expectations, and so on. During a new employee’s transition period, he must learn what these individual’s expect of him. He must be astute and perceptive to get it right.
The work itself is probably the easiest to understand during the transition period, unless a new employee must learn new work processes that she does not know. During the transition period, this must also be at the top of the ‘what I have to learn list’.
Some new employees resist the information presented to them during the transition period. They feel they want to work using their own style. Unfortunately, this will prevent new employees from successfully assimilating into the workplace.
Many CEOs, Chiefs, Generals and other well-regarded leaders have commented that “there is no rule book once you are promoted to the top job”. They feel that they have a substantial amount to learn once they walk into their new office and they are now in charge. It is interesting that from entry to the top of every organization, each new employee who has been selected for a position has a transition period.
Many companies offer a new employee training program, but these programs leave out many or all of the critical transition steps. Both new employees and management must recognize these issues and find a way to communicate successfully up the ladder and down.
One other critical thought on this subject for employers who are trying to diversify their workforces with employees who do not look like the norm (e.g., females in a male-dominated company), who do not speak the same language, or who come from a different geographic region: the transition period for these employees is twice as difficult. When management recognizes that this transition will be more difficult than usual, they can assist with assimilation by being patient, monitoring the situation, and offering helpful advice to the new employee.
New employees who are not like the norm need to exhibit the same level of patience as their managers. They also need to directly speak with their managers and communicate their concerns early before their transition becomes overbearing.
Transitioning into a new job is a very important time in one’s career. An unsuccessful transition can damage a person’s motivation and self-esteem. A successful transition can lead an employee into a successful long-term career.