Congratulations, you have worked hard, your CV is impressive and you aced the interview so, as a result, you have landed your dream job. It’s all a breeze from here right? Well, maybe…
Those first days in a new job are the ones which linger in the mind. You’ve dressed with care for your first appearance, you have made sure you are on time and have everything with you that you might remotely need until you work out what makes the place tick. In through the doors and there they are – your new work colleagues.
It doesn’t matter whether this is your first job or your tenth. It doesn’t even matter whether you are permanent or temporary in the role. There is one thing you have to do immediately – you need to assess the characters of your new colleagues and you need to do it fast.
Who are you going to like? Who is going to be an ally and who is going to try and make your life difficult? Some people seem to be intuitive in making these assessments correctly but for others this is never going to be an easy task and it is certainly not straightforward for anyone. However, with care it is possible to identify different personality and work types, and this ability certainly does get easier as you gain more experience in the workplace.
In the main, it is right to assume that as you have no history with the new organisation there shouldn’t be any immediate difficulties. However, it is possible to get blindsided by what you don’t yet know.
Once upon a time I started what ought to have been my dream job. Sadly when I arrived I was told, on that memorable first day, that my deputy had been an internal candidate for the role. No one had warned me in advance and, even worse, no-one took the time to mention the extreme and public levels of malice nurtured by this individual. Luckily, however, when he set about attempting to sabotage me at every turn it was so obvious that it wasn’t hard to spot and became something of a game for everyone.
There is a very old saying that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. In a very real sense this also applies to your work colleagues. There are very few occasions, other than if you are doing the hiring, when you get to choose the people with whom you will spend an inordinate amount of time each week.
I do believe that under normal circumstances those around us will be supportive and helpful, and from a professionalism perspective, we expect that those working alongside us will be dedicated colleagues who will assist us to shine in our roles as we will do for them. If we are unlucky then it can be a very different story and can create unnecessary and prolonged stress and that, as we all know, is not good for our health and wellbeing. So we all need to develop some strategies which will help us to protect ourselves from those who might make our working days difficult for us. We also need to ensure that we keep ourselves in good health, even when we are not facing those additional difficulties.
Those strategies will be different for everyone but should include:
- ways in which we can talk about our working experiences in order to retain a positive perspective, either with colleagues, friends, line managers, or mentors
- ensuring that we look after our physical wellbeing by getting enough sleep, drinking enough liquids (and that doesn’t include alcohol!), taking breaks during the day, getting some exercise
- and ensuring that we look after our own mental health by monitoring our responses to stressful situations and taking steps to deal with them, practicing meditation of one kind or another, acknowledging the things we achieve each day, ensuring that we take our holiday entitlement and, especially, keeping a wary eye on the balance between our work and private lives
So there is every reason to believe that your new role will indeed be a breeze – but keep your strategies intact because they will always stand you in good stead.
Minds are like parachutes – they work better when they are open. – Tomas Dewar
The beginning is the most important part of the work. – Plato