How to Survive the Deep End at Your New Job

new job challengesWe all want to make a good impression at our new jobs, especially in that first few weeks. We are excited, enthusiastic, and ready to take on any challenge. So what happens if you realize early on that things are not as they seemed in the interview, specifically with the training or mentoring you thought you would receive? What if there is no honeymoon period and you have been thrown into the deep end with no flotation device?

First, do not panic. Things may or may not change, but there are steps you can take to manage the situation. You need to regain a sense of control over what is happening as soon as possible so you do not feel helpless and frustrated. You will not be able to make good decisions from that perspective.

Second, make a list of what you can do about it, starting with these tips:

Find a mentor: This person can be inside or outside your company (both can be beneficial) who can and is willing to help you get your sea legs. Take some time to get to know a few people and then ask them if they are willing. You only need one or two mentors at the most. Be professional and mindful of how much time they can reasonably give.

Educate yourself: Identify courses you can take. Ask your boss if they will pay (going in there with a plan, measurable results, and how this course will help you). Consider attending online courses as well, like those offered on coursera.org. Make a list of the things you need to learn or improve, in terms of your skills or experience.Write them down, and in your next meeting with your boss, discuss a plan to achieve those goals.

Find your people: When you are learning the ropes, figure out who are the right and wrong people to get information from. Identify those employees who have been there for a long time and who can give you insight into how things work, versus those who just participate in office gossip.

Learn how to ask for help: Figure out who can help you the most; is it your boss or someone else? Do not always assume your boss is the one you need to ask for an answer. Be creative and learn about others in the company and the roles they play so you have additional people to ask for assistance and support.

Understand expectations. What does your employer expect of you, including your direct boss and the company in general? How does your job fit into the bigger picture of the company and its goals? If you do not know, ask! Do not assume anything. Your assumptions could be part of what is causing you stress, and they could be incorrect. To learn more about this topic, watch this YouTube video.

Finally, be patient with yourself. Realize that you will not learn the ropes overnight, and that is normal. Just because a new job or role is a little stressful at the beginning does not mean it is the wrong fit. It is part of the deal and will get better. If it does not after several months, then you may want to consider making a move. But give it time; do not just jump ship right away as a knee-jerk reaction.