Monday, July 28, 2014

New Job Anxiety

I had a long conversation with my daughter the other day about her new job. She’s working for the same company, but they recently transferred her group into a new area—with new responsibilities. And little or no training.

The employees were given a checklist and told to follow it. However, the checklist continued to change—once three times in the same day. And they were provided no details about what had changed—or why.

When her rating came out at the end of last week, many of her cases had errors. She is a lot like her mother—a perfectionist/overachiever. She’s used to being the go-to person in the group and getting high ratings on her work. She is not used to errors, especially since she’d done a conscientious job and tried to follow the checklists exactly. She was devastated.

Her boss called a meeting of the group to talk about their performance—or lack of same. Turns out, all of them had errors, many had more than my daughter. However, that realization didn’t make her feel much better.

Years ago, I hired many entry-level people. I trained them, and then other departments ‘stole’ them for better positions. Therefore, I was continually replacing personnel, since I had twenty-six in my group.

Even though I thoroughly trained each one, occasionally I found an overachiever who expected to be perfect after the first week or two. When it didn’t happen, they panicked.

I developed this standard ‘timeline’ for a new job, which I shared with my employees and my daughter. You may also find it useful.

You are in training. It’s interesting (or not), and your expectation is that you don’t know it all yet. Same for week two.

You are starting to get into the groove and feel as though you really understand how to do the job. (This is about where my daughter was last week.)

Reality crashes in. You discover you’ve made mistakes. For the hyper-conscientious, this is the point where you start to think, “I’ll never get it! I don’t even understand the terminology. There’s no one else to go to since we’re all busy.” This feeling is exacerbated if the training was insufficient or non-existent.

At this point, hunker down and hang in. Several of my employees attempted to quit when they reached this stage because they felt overwhelmed. I talked them into staying for just two more weeks. That was all I asked for.

At the end of two more weeks, they had started to really understand the job and develop some proficiency. From then on, their progress continued, not necessarily swiftly but consistently.
Many went on to better positions, and I started the training process again.

I can remember passing this insight on to a friend who had reached the point of giving up. She has now been in her position for about twenty years. I also had to talk my brother into staying with what turned out to be the best job he ever had.

So if you are starting a new job, just remember this timeline. During the last few years I worked, I was hired on contracts and had to remind myself of this reality with each new position I accepted. I got through the rough times with all of them to perform at my accustomed level of proficiency.

Do you have any other pieces of wisdom for folks staring a new job? Would you be willing to share them?

1 comment:

  1. Attitude is contagious. Show positive and it will help you adjust to your new environment.