- Truth 1 Hitting the Ground Running Can Get You into Trouble
- Truth 2 Act Dumb and Think Dirty: the Less You Say, the More You Learn
- Truth 3 Having Made the Move, You Should Grow Where You're Planted
- Truth 4 Take Ownership of Your Job Without Stepping on Toes
- Truth 5 It's Important to Know Who Knows What: Build Your Circle of Information
- Truth 6 Recognizing Whom to Trust Keeps You from Getting Burned
Truth 3 Having Made the Move, You Should Grow Where You're Planted
When transplanting a seedling or shrub, any good gardener knows that the immediate "after period" is critical. The act of moving can send even the hardiest plant into shock, with disturbed roots taking time to adapt to new soil. Humans can be similarly affected by a move. Wherever we work, we put down roots in the form of habits, customs, and relationships. The longer we stay in one place, the more embedded we get. When we pull ourselves up to move to a new job, it can prove tricky to acclimate to a new environment.
The key to a successful move is to fully engage with where you've been replanted. You need to let go of your old workplace and its way of doing things and put down roots in your new organization by showing loyalty and appreciation. Unless asked, it's not a good idea to even mention your old company. It's often tempting to compare a new place to former experiences, especially if that place is particularly well known, or if you had a particularly good time there. However, doing this publicly can lead to trouble.
Wally, a project manager, was used to going to his boss to deal with interdepartmental conflict. When he started a new job, he was aghast that, among other things, this was no longer the case. On a daily basis he would say "At AT&T, my boss used to say..." or "At AT&T we did it this way" to his new colleagues. Not only could he not help comparing, he also thought that if he dropped enough hints, his coworkers might start doing things differently. That didn't happen! At first, individual colleagues were just irritated. Soon they were laughing behind his back. Although eventually Wally settled into the new company culture, developing strong relationships with both boss and colleagues, his initial behavior considerably slowed down his integration by creating unnecessary friction.
A new workplace will want your skills and experience, but they won't want to be compared to past employers, however important these were to your formation. This is not just about avoiding outright critical comparison. Implied criticism, such as amazement at the inefficiency of the IT system, or mentioning how motivating it was that your former employer paid for an annual training week, will provoke as negative a reaction. Your intention may be to make helpful suggestions, but they will not be heard as such. New arrivals have to earn the right to critique by showing that they understand the organization.
Your new coworkers will be watching to see how well you settle in. Success in a former job doesn't mean that you will automatically flourish. No matter how well you know your stuff, there can be clashes with a new organization's norms and values. For example, Joyce moved from an Anglo-Dutch company with a consensus culture to an American company with an entrepreneurial one. She continued to expect that every decision would require checking with all concerned parties, no matter how long that took. Joyce's intent was good, but her colleagues saw her conscientious behavior as time-wasting, or worse, obstructionist. It took some honest feedback from others to set Joyce on the right path. Now she relishes the freedom to act that her new position offers.
Rather than looking to your own past, take the time to find out about the past and ethos of your new organization. Talk to people who've done your job before you, asking how things came to be. You don't have to repeat history—just respect it. This can also give you leverage. For example, if you can cite how the company has cared about people's development in the past, you can show that it makes sense to uphold these values by offering you training in the present.
You prove that you're a member of your new company with loyalty and support for your new colleagues. Rather than fretting about the loss of your supportive boss or efficient systems, take a positive perspective and focus on appreciating what does work. Then, once you've paid your dues, you can devote your energies to making things even better, working with others rather than against them.