Fitting in to a new environment

Fitting in to a new environment is always challenging. But one of the most important keys is humility. You may come with significant background in the discipline of your new job, or you feel very confident about your knowledge of the subject, especially if you did very well academically and have much confidence in your knowledge of the discipline. However, don’t talk and act as if you know more than others. Most likely, you do know quite a bit. But, head knowledge of the basics, or even a high level of understanding of the theories or processes, does not mean you know how to apply them in the practical world.

Have A Flexible Personality With Individuals

This is often very difficult for those with strong personalities, who may have the attitude, “Well, this is the way I am and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s too bad.” Depending on the colleague, this attitude will almost always get you off on the “wrong foot” with them. Until you get to know them better and understand how the company, division or department works, show some humility. Don’t come up with your “better ideas” just yet. You may indeed have a better way of doing something, but show some discretion in how you suggest it and when you suggest it.

As I began my teaching career, here is a simple example from my first flight instructing work. My new employer, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), had a different prelanding checklist than I used in my training to be come a flight instructor, which I had just finished. But I did not object to it or tell them that I had a better idea or tell them, “You ought to do it this way. …” Much later I learned that ERAU had created many procedures for introducing and teaching procedures and maneuvers. While these were not the only way to accomplish them safely and efficiently, the were very good. And more importantly, they were an excellent way to teach new flight students, who later could be (and were) given the opportunity to vary from the “Riddle way.” Students later were given this liberty; as long as it was safe and complied with the Federal Aviation Administration’s guidelines, as spelled out in the appropriate Practical Test Standards, it was acceptable.

Appropriate Attitude With Your Boss

Obviously, you want to have a good relationship with your boss. Therefore, the above also applies here. However, with him or her you do not want to even insinuate the wrong attitude. Your boss will quickly extrapolate that insinuation into the future and expect possible problems. “Yes sir…” and “No sir…” should be your reply to every request, especially during the first few days or weeks of your new employment. If you really do not agree with what he is saying or asking you to do, then take it up with a colleague; but even then, do not act as though you are superior. Again, show some discretion with your suggestions. Strive to understand why your new employer does things differently; there probably are a very good, practical and common sense reasons.

Appropriate Attitude At Meetings

Do more listening than talking, unless you happen to be put in the unenviable position of leader or chair of the meeting; then, be very careful to listen to others and give them ample opportunity to speak. They will understand that you are new and need to be given time to get acclimated to the new work environment. However, if you are not the leader, mostly listen, introduce yourself when asked to do so and leave any and all suggestions for doing things differently to one-on-one conversations with individual colleagues or, after some thought, with your boss. At least for the first few days or weeks (maybe longer), do not bring them up at meetings where you will most likely be seen as a “know it all” or someone with a very inflexible attitude.

Thank you for reading! Your comments and questions are most welcome.