Starting a new job is exciting, but also nerve-wracking. It can make you feel like you’re the new kid in school, walking into a classroom where everyone knows everyone else.
According to a Accountemps survey, half of new hires and 60% of managers, claim that “learning the ropes” is the most challenging part of a new job. On top of figuring out how to do the work, there’s the added stress of getting to know your new boss and coworkers. It can feel overwhelming at times.
However, there are simple things that we can do to navigate through these times more effectively, lowering our stress levels and making the most of this time. Using our emotional intelligence can help us make this time, if not enjoyable, at least less daunting. Here are four things emotionally intelligent people do in a challenging new role:
Having good self-awareness allows us to identify and manage the many feelings that we go through when starting a new job. It’s important to be aware that experiencing a range of emotions is normal. Every single person at your new company likely had these feelings when they first started working there—and remembering this can help us keep things in proportion.
Self-awareness allows us to slow down and take our time to get a better sense of a situation before responding. It’s important to also remember that discomfort and some difficulties naturally come with learning new things—even in a job that we really want and are excited about. Equally important is knowing ourselves well enough to realize that the new job may not be for us. Keep your mind open, and make time to check in with yourself about how you’re feeling.
Focus on forming relationships
Trying to form relationships with a lot of new people at work can feel like navigating a minefield. We wonder who we should trust and go to with questions, or when we need help with new tasks. Remember, you don’t have to figure it out the complex social dynamics of your workplace immediately. Focus on remaining open, friendly, and making a point to go out of your way to introduce yourself to everyone. Making good first impressions will be crucial to longterm success in any new job.
Social awareness helps emotionally intelligent people learn to identify the culture and inner workings of an organization, allowing them to more smoothly transition into their new workplace. A good start in making connections is to seek out people who are not in competing roles, but are also new to the organization. These people are likely experiencing similar feelings and challenges—meaning you can rely on each other for mutual support.
“Feeling a sense of belonging at work is important when starting in a new role,” says Sona Khosla, host of the Speaking of Purpose podcast and Chief Impact Officer at charitable donation-management platform Benevity. “To create meaningful social connections, new employees can actively seek out membership in Employee Resource Groups. … There’s multitudes of these affinity groups springing up in companies of all sizes that coalesce around shared experiences [and] can help to create a foundation upon which a new employee can grow and flourish.”
Emotionally intelligent people are good at asking for help, and practicing active listening. For example: Make sure you understand what your boss’s and colleagues’ expectations are, and avoid making assumptions. You may be surprised that you have more leeway than you expected. Empathy will help you understand that everyone—including those above and around you—are working under their own pressures and stressors.
The worst thing to do is not to tell anyone you are feeling overwhelmed and pretend everything is fine. Ask your boss or colleagues how they would proceed and where they would go for help. Be proactive and come up with suggestions for your boss on what might help in your situation. Most people love to talk about challenges that they were able to overcome.
Consider asking them if they remember a difficult situation when they started a new position and what helped them overcome the issue. Remember that the people who hired you want you to succeed. Allow them the opportunity to help you do so.