It May Be Scary, But It's Going to Be Great

"Anything new is almost always scary and unsettling, but that doesn't mean it's not going to be great." - Jess Esktrom, Chasing The Bright Side

Fall is a time of change and transition. The weather gets a little crisper, and leaves begin to change. Kids head back to school, and we return to routines that we may have let go of during the summer. In my house, the change of seasons was also a mark of new beginnings.

My fifth-grade son started attending a new school this year. This meant many new faces — intermediate school brings together five elementary schools in our district — an unfamiliar building, new teachers, different rooms for certain classes, combination locks on lockers, changing clothes for gym class - oh my! That is a lot of change for an adolescent brain to manage.

His situation wasn’t much different than my own. I recently left a company after 10 years to join exaqueo. I was leaving a place where I had built relationships and I had proven myself as a valuable asset, and honestly, where I’d grown comfortable. Now I was joining a new team and proving myself all over again. Many of my son’s anxieties resembled my own.

Over the course of a handful of bedtime conversations, I realized many of my son’s fears came from the unknown. Will I know how to open my combination lock? Will I remember where my classrooms are, and be able to get there on time? Am I good enough to play in the school band?

I shared with him that I felt a lot of the same feelings about starting a new job. I wondered, Will I be able to use the technology? How would I learn the processes of how this new company conducts business? Where will I find the resources I need? Do I really have the skills to do what it takes in this company?

Concerns like this aren’t unique to me, and it’s not uncommon for new employees to experience anxious feelings in some way. (<—Click to tweet this!)

Employers have the opportunity to acknowledge these times of transition and help ease new employees’ fears. According to Talya Bauer, Ph.D. and author of Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success, "Research and conventional wisdom both suggest that employees get about 90 days to prove themselves in a new job. The faster new hires feel welcome and prepared for their jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the firm's mission." The advice I gave my son (and to be honest, I’ve reminded myself of these things too), is also relevant for organizations looking to create a positive new employee experience:

    The world needs you to be the unique person you were made to be. Know that your personality, your experiences, your passions, and your opinions all bring value to the world and the people around you. Stay true to who you are!

    It's OK to show your vulnerability. It can open doors to true connection with others. Ask for help when you need it. Not only will you save yourself time (and probably frustration), it will show an eagerness to learn something new.
    If you can't get that locker opened the first time, or find your classroom in a rush, take a deep breath and know you'll get it right the next time. Learn from your mistakes and move on. When making a career change, know it will take time to not only learn the skills, but learn the nuances of the company culture, the working style of the team, and find your fit. Don’t rush the process and allow yourself the time you need to find your sweet spot!
    In this new situation, they are probably going through the exact same thoughts and feelings as you. Instead of being intimidated by all those new faces you don't know, look at them as opportunities for new relationships and potentially great friendships!

Some of us look at new experiences as exciting, full opportunity and possibility. Others see the unknown as terrifying and spend time mentally crafting a list of all the things that could possibly go wrong. We all approach change different — even in situations where we’re going through the same transition together. Why is that? It comes down to our individual reactions and expectations of what lies ahead, whether things go well or aren't exactly what we expected. This realization holds true for children and adults alike, no matter the stage in life. For my son and me, we focus on what we can control, take joy in the small wins, and know that we are learning and growing each day. And what better way than to do this together?

How do you help ease the transition of new employees into your organization? Share your orientation, onboarding, and new hire best practices with us! Leave a comment below or tweet us @exaqueo.

If you enjoyed reading this post, check out this one: Welcome Erin DeGroot to #Teamexaqueo!

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