Have you ever gone in to a new job and felt lost or uncomfortable? Felt out of the loop with all of your co-workers? There is always a period of time when starting a new job, that we have feelings of being uncomfortable or alienated and it happens to us all.
Having to assimilate and familiarise within a new work place is a necessary evil for every new employee but there are ways to help an employee achieve a sense of assimilation. Karen Myers and John Oetzel did a study in 2003 that proposed a model, that discusses the processes involved in socialisation.
To elaborate, Katherine Miller went on to clearly outline these processes in her book Organizational Communication: Approaches and Processes and I have chosen to discuss what I view as the most effective three that are involved when learning to assimilate in a new workplace, these include:
- Developing familiarity with others
- Acculturating – Learning the culture of the organisation
- Becoming involved in the organisation
Developing familiarity with others
Russell Korte developed a study of how relationship building is a primary component of socialization processes in organisations. Korte discusses how studies on socialisation highlight “a need for newcomers to learn to interact successfully with others in the organisation”. As most of us probably know, in the working
world it is more likely than not that you are going to be surrounded by other employees that you have to interact with on a daily basis, which makes social interaction crucial as we begin to familiarise with our co-workers.
If you’re a new employee and don’t develop a strong familiarity with your co-workers it can harm any chances to gain experience or reduce any help you get from your colleagues. For example, if you don’t know how to use a specific set of software or the photocopier and you need to ask for help from a co-worker that you’ve never introduced yourself to or even acknowledged, then are they going to be a lot less likely to help you figure it out compared to a situation where you had familiarised yourself and gotten to know them.
Acculturating – learning the culture of the organisation
Each organisation has a different ‘culture’ a different way of dressing, a different manner of interacting, or even a different ethic towards work completion. For example, one office may be very laid-back in terms of dress but their interactions around the office may be kept to a minimum. Now compare that to an office with a strict dress policy, think full suit everyday, but office interactions may be encouraged to allow workers to bounce ideas back and forth or even to sit and create ideas and strategies.
The culture of a work place is a big influence on an employee and it is important to learn the culture of an organisation quickly. Learning the culture of a company relates to being able to develop a familiarity with others because being seen as someone who knows the culture and fits in will change the perceptions of others looking upon the new employee as just that, the new guy (or girl). The extreme differences in office cultures means that employees have to adapt to a lot of different things and quickly. The need to adapt to cultures relies heavily on adaptability and this is key in learning the culture of an organisation. This article from America’s Job Exchange discusses the importance of flexibility in the workplace and it’s benefits.
Become involved in the organisation
Being involved in an organisation can show co-workers and upper-management that there is a willingness to engage in the company and a desire to excel and improve. Showing involvement is not only important as a new employee that’s trying to assimilate but it continues throughout working life to develop better performance from employees. Involvement in a company helps in the assimilation process through socialisation because it means the employee is willing to go out of their way to make themselves comfortable in the organisation and learn more about the company.
For example, if you are an employee that does not look to be involved in the company or be engaged, it can send a negative message about the employee to the rest of the company and having co-workers thinking negatively about you can be detrimental and links back to familiarising with others and in turn relates to acculturating.
Let’s sum it all up
Assimilation in to a new organization takes place through a variety of different socialization processes. There are many ways for a new employee to make the most out of their time in a new job and the three ways listed above are all a part of the bigger picture, which is the socialization process.
After what I have researched and discussed in this blog I know and hopefully you can take away a little insight in to the ways that can help you settle in to your new workplace. It is all about familiarising yourself to your surroundings to make yourself comfortable in them, adapting and understanding the culture of the organisation in order to do the right things and finally, once you’re comfortable, going and being involved in your organisation and showing an interest for your place of work.