Most people only do it a few times in their life, but whether you’re a CEO or a receptionist, or anyone in between, starting a new job can be one of life’s most stressful events. Even if you’re the best in the world at what you do, you’ll still be in a foreign environment with different people, systems, processes and culture which all adds up to make you feel way out of your comfort zone. As a general rule of thumb, I believe it takes around 3 months (the ‘honeymoon period’) for a new hire to feel comfortable and fully productive in their new role.

As a consultant I typically change engagements every 6 months which means I’ve had lots of ‘practise’ in starting a new job over the years. In these engagements find myself regularly coaching new employees on how to best handle their first 3 months in their new role so I decided to write this post to share it with the masses. Here are my top 9 tactics to reduce new-job stress:

1) Manage your own expectations

Remember that good things take time. The primary source of stress that a new hire feels is the pressure of their own unrealistic expectations to immediately prove themselves to their new colleagues and managers. Once you come to peace and accept that it is impossible for you to be a high functioning, high performing employee on Day 1, and be comfortable in knowing that it will probably take 3 months before you are able to become fully productive, then you will greatly reduce the amount of stress you experience in your new role.

2) Be a sponge

Every company has its own unique culture, processes, systems and people and learning these can often feel like ‘information overload’, especially in the first few weeks. My recommendation is to listen, observe, and let this information ‘wash over you’ and be comfortable in knowing that not all of it will stick the first time.

3) Introduce yourself

Instead of waiting for people to introduce themselves to you, be bold and make the first move. Something as simple as “Hi, I’m Brian and I’ve just joined the recruitment team” can start a conversation.

4) Schedule regular check-ins with your manager

Checking in with your manager on a regular basis will help you to feel supported and confident that you’re on the right track in your new role. Hopefully your manager has already built these check-ins into your onboarding plan, but if they haven’t then take initiative and request some 1:1 time in their calendar on a regular cadence for the first few months.

5) Ask for help

Don’t know where something is? Not sure how to use the coffee machine? Don’t be afraid (or too proud) to ask for help! You’ll be pleasantly surprised that people are more than willing to help and it’s a great way to make introductions and get to know your new colleagues.

6) Eat in the lunch room

Instead of eating your lunch by yourself at your desk, head to the lunchroom, join a table and introduce yourself (but don’t bring last night’s leftover fish to reheat!).

7) Attend social club events

Most companies will have some form of social club or happy hour gatherings. Make an extra effort to attend these events and if it happens to be a potluck event then bring something really yummy!

8) Volunteer

It could be for social events, fundraising initiatives, or anything, but if the opportunity arises to volunteer for something then put your hand up or register your name. It’s a great way to meet people outside of your department and to experience the company culture (not to mention having fun while doing it!).

9) Get sweaty!

At the time of writing this I’m currently working at Lululemon and I am lucky enough to have full access to daily yoga and fitness classes throughout the working week. Whether it’s in the locker room or on a yoga mat I’ve met a bunch of really cool people during these ‘sweat sessions’ which has helped me become more familiar and comfortable in my new environment. Perhaps there’s a running group, bike club or boot camp that some of your colleagues have organised which is a great opportunity for you to network and socialise with your new workmates.

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