Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Rights of passage

Making the transition into a new job is challenging at all levels. The factors focused on during the job hunt and interview process can differ greatly from the reality that faces an employee in a new job.

Much has been written on the subject. Michael Watkins' book, The First 90 Days, suggests the need to look strategically and systematically at the transition process. Common at all levels is the need to develop a clear understanding of the company culture, the way decisions are made and how conflict is handled.

Company culture is subtle and you should spend a few weeks listening and observing. Understand what is valued and who values it. You need to make an impression, but sometimes that should be made via small steps rather than moving too quickly.

Communication with your manager is important. What does your employer expect from you? What can you do to show that you are a valuable contributor while still taking the time to assess the world around you? Awareness of and thought about this process can go a long way in ensuring you achieve a successful integration.

Also look at yourself. Think about what made you successful in your last job and what may have been a derailer. Where have you felt challenged, especially in interpersonal relationships or teambuilding? The first three months may be a great time to engage an executive coach or speak to a mentor.

The three-month mark is a good time to get feedback and make sure you are aligned with company goals and the more subtle norms of behaviour. Three months is also still early enough to make changes that need to be made.

Debbie Matson, managing director, Links International