Part 1: Getting Established in a New Organization or Role

The first day on a new team or at a new company can be one of the most unnerving, stomach churning experiences for even the bravest, boldest of corporate titans. Sometimes, this new role is the result of an empowered choice (like leaving one company for the role of a lifetime at another). Other times, the decision to change jobs is, well—less than empowered. Perhaps your company experienced a round of layoffs, and although you survived, you were forced into a new role within the newly streamlined organization. Or perhaps you didn’t survive the all too familiar layoff cycle and you had to secure new employment before your severance package expired. No matter what brought you to this moment, there is an undeniable fear and angst associated with a new job.

Have you ever had thoughts like:

  • “I’m going to mess this up so badly my life will be over.”
  • “When my new boss figures out I have no idea what I’m doing he’s going to tear my arm off and beat me with it.”
  • “All this work is so new to me, I’m getting buried in it. I’ll never be able to leave my desk.”
  • “Everyone used to like me, but here, nobody even talks to me.”
  • “Everyone’s going to see me fail.”

“By 2020 it is projected 40% of Americans will be independent contractors and be selecting jobs based upon autonomy and flexibility as opposed to security.”

The Data:

Changing jobs can be scary and induce irrational thoughts like those listed above. But due to the nature of our global, technology-infused society, we are changing jobs more and more, some of us quite often. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average worker currently holds ten different jobs before age forty. By 2020 it is projected 40% of Americans will be independent contractors and be selecting jobs based upon autonomy and flexibility as opposed to security. As this happens the number of different jobs one has in a lifetime will likely double.

The Fear:

While economic forces and work life balance decisions drive people to change jobs at an ever-increasing rate, the change is still frightening. The person changing jobs must trust in themselves and their abilities. Also, one inherently grants trust to the new organization when they agree to join—believing that their talents will be recognized and appreciated

In his Psychology Today blog “BrainSnacks” Karl Albrecht Ph.D. identifies five basic fears we all have. To paraphrase these are:

  • Extinction—the fear of annihilation, of ceasing to exist. This is beyond the fear of death it is the fear of no longer being.
  • Mutilation—the fear of losing any part of our bodily structure, or of having our body’s boundaries invaded or made useless.
  • Loss of Autonomy—the fear of being immobilized, paralyzed, restricted, enveloped, overwhelmed, entrapped, imprisoned, smothered, or otherwise controlled by circumstances beyond our control.
  • Separation—the fear of abandonment, rejection, and loss of connectedness; of becoming a non-person—not wanted, respected, or valued by anyone else.
  • Ego-death—the fear of humiliation or shame that leads to loss of one’s sense of lovability, capability, and worthiness.

The job-change journey can easily evoke each of these five types of fear, but as the aforementioned US Department of Labor Statistics vividly points out, more and more of us are overcoming our fears, taking the plunge, and accepting new jobs.

Now What?

So, what does one do when starting a new job? You have taken the risk of making a change, how can you maximize the reward and fulfill the promise of your new opportunity? In the upcoming installments of this series we will discuss the four activities necessary to getting established in a new organization or role.

These are:

    • Finding Out How the Organization Works
    • Building Relationships
    • Agreeing upon then Building the Role
    • Working with Senior Management

This blog post is part of a series of installments on Career Transition:

  1. Part 1: Getting Established in a New Organization or Role
  2. Part 2: How Does the Organization Work?
  3. Part 3: Building Relations with Co-workers