So, you’re a few weeks into the new role which seemed like such a good fit on paper. And whenever people ask about the new job you say you’re doing well. But deep down, you have a nagging feeling that all is not well. If you’re reading this, the chances are that the feeling of unease about your new role is itself unexpected, which is only adding to your angst. After all, you’ve changed jobs before, right?
Well, not necessarily right. Even pre 2020, many role changes included a shift of context. Perhaps you moved from one company to its leading competitor, or maybe your last moves were upwards within your sector and across? Fast forward 18 months to the post-lockdown world and role change has potentially just got a whole lot harder. If you’re interested in three reasons why, read on.
Firstly, it’s possible that your most recent role change was unaccompanied by environmental change.
You’ve probably kept the same chair at the same desk in the same spare room, as you’ve moved roles whilst working from home. The upside of this – a seemingly quicker onboarding process, familiarity with where the loos are! The downside? Your expectations of yourself as you’ve stayed in your own home will be much higher than when you were last inducted or onboarded into a face to face role. However, you still have lots of unanswered questions, the answers to which lie beyond you. The sensory load that most of us experience when we start a new role in a new environment is what fast tracks us through the familiarisation process, and much of that learning is subliminal.
Second up. You may not even know what questions to ask!
Naturally in your first few days and weeks you look to established members of the company – HR, your boss – to set out their stall and lead your induction. Whilst many HR departments have successfully pivoted their recruitment practice, virtual onboarding is a far harder trick to pull off . Did you spend longer than you expected to, being introduced to the organisation? Probably not, but some leading businesses recognise that virtual onboarding can take up to five times longer than working face to face. Similarly, you expect your new boss to know what they want from you. However, as many companies’ processes are still in a state of flux, not all managers are able to communicate clarity for new recruits, whether that’s about workflow or objectives. In this case, you will need to structure your own inbound learning journey, which is pretty tricky since you don’t know what you don’t know!
And thirdly, remote working doesn’t allow for cultural immersion or connection.
No doubt you thought about the consequences of not being physically with your new team when you started your role. Hopefully you and your colleagues ensured that you had screen time with individuals. But what about the less tangible elements of company culture? The informal, unwritten rules which govern how stuff gets done in a business simply don’t translate across the screen. The hardest way to learn the culture of an organisation is by tripping over some aspect of it publicly. As well as being painful, the correction process takes longer when you’re working remotely, as it’s intrinsically linked to knowing you belong. You may feel that you have lost ground and that the onboarding mountain is now harder than ever to climb? What’s more, if you previously prided yourself on your ability to read company culture without potentially costly blunders, such experiences will feed your feelings of self-doubt.
Get a running mate
One of the ways to combat this ambiguous and unnerving experience during role change is to find yourself a running mate. Enlightened employers may offer you a buddy, someone in the business who can guide you. This person can help you understand which skeletons reside where, and answer “foolish” questions. However, the more senior you are in a business, the harder it is to find an appropriate buddy. More helpful by far is a thinking partner, someone who is external to the business but right by your side, metaphorically. Cue the coach. Support from an executive coach can help you work out who you are, how you function best, what you need and how to ask for it.
Working with a coach you will be able to talk about your team and their needs as well as your own, and learn about what’s working well elsewhere. Whilst you may not need a confidence coach, you’ll certainly feel the benefits of getting external support in terms of your sense of self. A professional coach will offer you a confidential space in which to plan your way into your new role and help you to be the catalyst for change that no doubt your new boss wants.
If you’d like to get in touch to find out more, why not book a call, and don’t let the indirect effects of the pandemic scupper your effectiveness in your first few weeks.
With thanks to Andrea Davis for use of the image above.