Suppose you’ve been out looking in earnest for a job for a considerable amount of time. You’ve had interviews; although not as many or as often as you had first thought, and time after time you were ultimately rejected because someone else had better qualifications, more experience, or you do not know why. Then all of a sudden, you not only landed an interview, but you were presented with and accepted a job offer. Congratulations!
However, you experience almost immediately a surge of stress and physiological change as your mind starts to deal with your new employment status. Shouldn’t accepting a job bring only excitement, enthusiasm and happiness? Why the unwanted stress?
Well in those first few seconds of accepting an offer, your status has changed. Your mind immediately starts to think about all the things you have to do to succeed in your new role. Maybe a move is required from one city to another, new clothes are required, they’ll be new people to meet and interact with, a new boss to answer to, a change in your daily routine, people to thank and notify of your status etc. In short, your body and mind are temporarily out of balance.
When faced with any change be it good or bad, people generally like to feel in control and sure of themselves. There is a strong desire to stabilize everything at once, or at least as soon as possible. The problem comes however, when people feel at a loss to control the things they can not, in order to restore the balance. If you are to start a job in two weeks time, worrying about how you’ll deal with all those new people to meet isn’t something you can do anything about until two weeks time when you meet them on day 1 at the new job. And even then, you might find some of the staff are on vacation, taking lieu time, or are off ill.
Now in the example above, why can’t the brain just say to itself, “Okay, if I can’t meet them for two weeks, I’ll stop stressing about how I’ll fit in and if I’ll be liked or not.” It isn’t that easy is it? However, you do have some power to control some of the stress. If you’ve got a few weeks before you start, put together a box of things you’d like to have on day 1. If you are the kind of person that likes to have personal things in your area such as a family photo, dust it off and pack it. Maybe you have a business card holder, a newly generating plant that will remind you, that like it, you’re growing with this move.
Although you haven’t got a pay check yet, surely one new outfit might be okay and give you that little bit of extra confidence on day 1. What about getting your hair cut and asking for a shampoo at the time which is really more about the head massage and feeling pampered?
However back to this feeling of anxiety, which might ironically be brought upon by feelings of self-doubt and an ability to actually competently do the job you were hired to do. It’s good to remember that at this early stage of your new career, the employer and those that interviewed you know more about what you are walking into than you do. They know their needs and you should take comfort in believing that out of all those people who interviewed for the job, you were the very best candidate as you were hired.
You can’t control the attitude of others at your workplace. However, you can influence how they treat you based on how you carry yourself and brand yourself to them right from the first hello. All those tried and true things like a smile, a firm handshake, showing respect for others knowledge, their years on the job, and the reasons why things are done the way they are done at present will endear you to your new peers.
It’s also significant and extremely important to realize that you aren’t the only one experiencing change on your first day of work. The existing employees will be wondering about the new person starting in a couple of weeks. They’ll be hoping that you fit in with them, that the chemistry is good between you and them, and they might even be dreading your arrival if they suspect you’ve been hired to clean up a mess or make changes that might involve them. In other words, everybody has to deal with change when someone new arrives in the workplace.
One little tip is to to bring a small lunch, but if you get asked to join others at a restaurant, take them up on it. Being socially accepted, as well as organizationally welcomed is invaluable, and food often is a great medium bringing people together. If you choose to eat your lunch from home, eat in the lunchroom and not alone at your desk.
Every day on the job will bring improvement, and it may take several days, weeks, or even a month or more to get a real handle and feel back in sync. Give yourself the gift of time to achieve your balance instead of trying to resolve all the issues on day one.
By Kelly Mitchell, BA
*The original can be found at: http://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/the-stress-of-the-first-work-day/
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