How to transition into a new job

This Week's Prescription: Learn how to transition into your new job. Photo: Wikipedia

WASHINGTON, December 4, 2013 – It is ironic, but after employees land their dream jobs, they are often at a loss as to how to transition into that job smoothly.  Transitioning into a new job is a rarely discussed topic. But if you think about it, how a new employee transitions into his new job will likely determine whether or not he stays.

There are several aspects to transitioning. First, there is the new organizational culture to deal with. When a new employee begins her new job, she must not resist the company’s culture; she must adapt to it. In the future, when she becomes a key official, she can modify the company’s culture if she chooses. Initially, however, she must adapt to it. If she does not, she will receive negative attention. 

Negative attention comes in many forms. One form is mistreatment by other employees. This, too, comes in many forms ranging from minimal rudeness all the way to torment and sabotage. 

Once a new employee is subjected to bad treatment by other employees, it may be impossible to develop advocates elsewhere in the company. A negative reputation is hard to turn around. Therefore, adapting to the organization’s culture is transition step number one.

Additionally, new employees must learn what is expected of them in terms of job performance. On its face, this may seem obvious, but it is not. For example, in some companies there is an unwritten rule that states “all employees who arrive at work before the official start time are superior.” In this work environment, all early-to-work employees are looked upon favorably, while employees who are late or even on time are perceived as “lazy or lacking in initiative.”

There are many aspects of job performance that are unwritten. Different supervisors may have different expectations. Different customers may also have different expectations, and so on. During a new employee’s transition period, he must learn what these individuals expect of him. He must be astute and perceptive to get it right.

The work itself is probably the easiest thing to understand during the transition period, unless a new employee must learn new work processes that she does not know. During the transition period, this must also be at the top of the “what I have to learn list.”

Some new employees resist the information presented to them during the transition period. They feel they want to work using their own style, one that’s often been developed elsewhere and under different rules and circumstances. Unfortunately, this attitude will prevent new employees from successfully assimilating into the new workplace.

Many CEOs, Chiefs, Generals and other well-regarded leaders have noted “there is no rule book once you are promoted to the top job.” They feel that they have a substantial amount of new material to learn once they walk into their new office and find themselves truly in charge. It is interesting to note that from entry-level positions to the top slot in every organization, each new employee who has been selected for a position still has to deal with a transition period. 

Many companies offer a new employee training programs, but these programs often leave out or neglect information crucial to navigating many or all critical transition steps. Both new employees and management must recognize these issues and find a way to communicate successfully up the corporate ladder and down.

SEE RELATED: Promotion in today’s work environment: Still possible?

One final and increasingly crucial topic for employers attempting to diversify their workforces with employees who do not resemble the norm (e.g., females in a male-dominated company), who do not speak the same language, or who come from a different geographic region: the transition period for these employees is twice as difficult on average.

When management fully recognizes transitions such as these will be more difficult than usual, they can assist with assimilation by being patient, monitoring the situation, and offering helpful advice to the new employee. 

For their part, new employees who do not seem to fit the current corporate norm need to exhibit the same level of patience as their managers. They also need to directly speak with their managers and communicate their concerns early before their the pressures involved with their transition become overbearing. 

Transitioning into a new job is a very important time in one’s career. An unsuccessful transition can damage an individual’s motivation and self-esteem. But a successful transition can lead an employee into a successful and fulfilling long-term career.  


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Cassi Fields

Dr. Cassi Fields has provided expert opinion on career and workplace issues for nationally recognized media outlets including Forbes, TheStreet TV,, FOX News Live, US News & World Report,, WUSA9, News Channel 8,, and more. Dr. Fields, who received her Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from George Washington University, lives in Virginia with her husband and two children.

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