I wanted to expand on my recent video blog post about being thrown into the deep end at work because I’ve had this topic come up several times in the past few weeks with clients. And I was honored to be interviewed by Matt Jones again with Q100 and the Cumulus group of stations here in Atlanta. Having this happen to you, whether it’s a new job or a new role within your company – even a promotion – can be overwhelming and stressful. And it can happen to any of us. In some cases, we take a job even if we don’t feel completely qualified because we really need the paycheck. In other cases we may have sold ourselves too well. One of the toughest things about this situation and you can feel completely out of control. You accepted the job, asked for it (in the case of a promotion or transfer) and it can be hard to admit you’re underwater. What do you do? Here are 7 steps to take – in this order – to manage the situation as best as you can.

  1. Don’t panic. First, don’t freak out. And don’t assume you can’t do the job. Take a step back, analyze the situation and think about what’s going on. Is it a lack of manpower, lack of training or lack of process that’s creating the stress? Write down each thing that is the problem area so to speak and create a plan. Doing so will help you feel a greater sense of control again. And remember – they hired you, they must’ve seen something in you that can do the job. Step into it.
  2. Create your own training program. Define your goals with your boss and create an educational plan even if it will take several months to complete. Talk to your supervisor and your co-workers as well to find out their goals and how yours fit into their or are impacted by theirs. Then start small with manageable goals-for example, what are the top 3 things you need to learn in the next 30 days?
  3. Find classes, online or otherwise. There are so many free and low cost educational options out there, especially on the internet (Coursera.org. is one example). Prioritize what’s most important to your career path and your current position and start there.
  4. Manage up. If you are swamped, there’s a chance your boss is too. It’s imperative to manage up with your supervisor. Ask them what their expectations are of you and how your performance will be measured. When and how will you be evaluated? Maintain open lines of communication with your boss, suggest weekly or bi-weekly meetings, whatever’s appropriate.
  5. Take co-workers to lunch to learn the ropes. Ask for advice, learn from them. Pick their brain about who knows what or who is best to turn to in your organization for specific advice or help with things only people who have worked there for a while would know. Find out the culture of the organization and who to turn to when you need assistance.
  6. Go to HR to find out about education benefits. They may not have any but if you don’t ask, you won’t know. And they may be willing to help in some way or create a new policy to provide assistance. At the very least they could give you time during work hours to attend a course.
  7. Find a mentor. A mentor can be inside or outside the company. You can have more than one but no more than 2. Part of Tip #6 and getting to know who’s who in the organization can be part of your process of identifying a possible mentor.

Hallie Crawford
Career Coach

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