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Settling into a new company

Sarah Horrocks
By Sarah Horrocks Published on 13 June 2008

Once your contract has been signed, it's time to prove yourself and integrate as best you can into your new company. Here’s our guide to settling in!

3 months to prove yourself
The first days in a new company can seem like going back to school: it’s a whole new kettle of fish! Aside from your skills, which were enough to win you the job, your success also depends on how quickly you can integrate into the company from the start. So from the first day you need to be pleasant, listen, invest yourself completely in your job and familiarise yourself with the culture of the company. This can take from 3 to 6 months depending on company policy and whether or not you have a training/trial period.

The keys to integrating well
Adaptation has several stages:

- Preparation
Whether you're coming out of unemployment or another job, it's best to start on a Monday. After the weekend you'll be refreshed, with a free mind. And if you are anxious or lack self-confidence, you can also prepare your arrival by reading any documents that your employer may give you or that you've found to help find out more about the job/company/what you need to know.

- Make acquantainces
You'll usually be introduced to the workplace, structure and team by the managers, either at a meeting or individually, maybe even with a welcoming drink or integration seminar to help you get to know your new colleagues. Try and get into the team spirit. Take the intiative in conversations without waiting for people to come to you. If you're on your morning coffee break, make an effort to participate because these habits are an integral part of the non-official functioning of the company. Also appreciate and get to know your colleagues by taking an interest in their lives, hobbies etc. Another rule to abide by is working hours: calculate your hours according to your colleagues' hours (arrival, lunch break and home time), at least for the first few months.

- Familiarise yourself with the culture of the company
If you're going to be productive, you need to have a good knowledge of the company and what they expect from you. So be communicative and ask your boss lots of questions, especially if you see that he doesn’t naturally come to you with information. What are your instructions? Does he have any advice for you? How were things done before you arrived? Find out everything you can so you're not in the dark.

- Be available to listen
From the beginning, if you have concerns, don’t be afraid to ask your superior what he thinks and what you could do to improve things (your contribution to meetings, project management etc). Be open to criticism and take a positive attitude without holding someone else accountable. This can only help you for your future.

- Prove your autonomy
Don’t wait for a colleague to come to you to tell you how things work. Know how to get ahead by asking questions about each person’s role and about the key objectives of the company or department. Don’t wait for them to dictate your jobs to you. Establish a programme for yourself and avoid constantly asking for advice, so you're not annoying your colleagues every 5 minutes. In other words, learn to manage on your own and fast.

- Take some distance
To find your place in the company, you don't need to do too much. Ideally, observe what goes on around you without intervening too much at the beginning. Make sure you don’t take sides in any conflicts that can reign within groups and know how to remain neutral in all circumstances. If they have given you an ideal vision of the company or if you hear rumours, put things in perspective and make your own mind up.

- Be careful
In the first few months, avoid feeling too at home when it comes to making decisions, in case you incur the wrath of your colleagues. If there's a clear organisation problem, a bad way of working and you know how to improve things, keep them to yourself for the time being. Play the role of a supporter rather than an initiater. You'll gain more credibilty and respect from your colleagues.

by Sarah Horrocks

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