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Tips & Training

Career-building strategies and challenges for new professionals

In my previous article, I discussed the importance of opting for an in-person rather than virtual way of working to develop a good network of contacts when starting a job with a new employer. I also presented a winning strategy to facilitate integration, namely adapting to the culture of our new employer. In this article, I will present other strategies to help new employees integrate their work well, but also to develop, flourish and, if desired, climb the ladder! As you will see, all these strategies require an extensive and well-established network.

Understand expectations and instructions

When you start a new job, in addition to establishing the expectations and objectives to be achieved with your managers, it is strongly recommended to ask them for feedback and to ask the people around you. The quicker we get feedback, the more concise and direct they are, the easier it is to correct things early and avoid getting into trouble. When we are physically in our workplace, the colleagues present with us have more opportunities to observe our actions and identify errors or suggest more efficient working methods.

It’s also much easier to talk to colleagues you have already been in direct contact with, rather than people you have barely seen in lowercase on a small Zoom screen. In addition, the chances that colleagues will identify periods of questioning or uncertainty will also be greater if they rub shoulders with you, thus favouring the intervention or support of caring people who would not have the opportunity to perceive your difficulties in the context of teleworking.

Keep calm

People sometimes get fired because they can’t control their emotions. Beyond inappropriate behaviours (angers, chronic pessimism, derogatory comments, etc.) that are indefensible, it would be wrong to pretend that we all have the same mood. Our mood varies and it can be influenced by external or intrinsic elements.

The isolation caused by remote work can notably lead to a drop in motivation and a gloomier mood. The inability to perform a task well because of a lack of information could also increase the level of stress, anxiety and bring its share of frustrations. The advancement of knowledge on how telework affects the psychological state of employees is currently slowed down because the rapid imposition of this mode of work is happening at the same time as the pandemic. However, we can certainly say that for a large part of professionals, remote work does not only have good sides.

“When we are physically in our workplace, the colleagues present with us have more opportunities to observe our actions and identify errors or suggest more efficient working methods.”

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association: “We need each other. It is often underestimated how much we can benefit from the support of other people. Social support can help us deal with hardships or setbacks, solve problems, improve our self-esteem, and even manage health and stress issues.”

Of course, we can find social support from our family or from self-help groups, but these people do not know your workplace and the challenges there. Co-workers have probably gone through the same stages as you. They know the issues and can offer you concrete strategies and solutions. Colleagues are often very efficient in understanding how we feel or downplaying a situation that seems hopeless and thereby calming us down.

Recognize the political game of the organization

All organizations have their own internal political rules that influence decision-making and ways of doing things. The political game is as old as the world; it is quite simply inevitable. By considering any political game as harmful, we are only denying reality. To advance one’s files, which contributes positively to the feeling of competence and well-being at work, one must consider the political game as an area where one must become competent.

However, to become competent in this area, we must begin by understanding our new organization and its networks of influence. The larger our network of colleagues with whom we have a quality relationship, the better our understanding of the political game of our organization. This makes it possible to identify the people who have an interest in our file progressing and who can help us. It also identifies who has the power to change things or influence them. 

Find mentors

When you arrive in a new job, it is not easy to know where to turn for personal advice. Often, we hesitate to confide in our managers for fear of revealing our vulnerability. In this context, the help of a person who acts as a mentor is very valuable. It is recommended to find someone who has a strategic position and who is respected in the organization. But how can we identify this person in a telework context? The mentoring relationship requires trust, and this trust necessarily develops through the quality of the exchanges that will have taken place prior to the pairing.

Conclusion 

Our quality of work, attitude, behaviour, and ability to solve problems and quickly find solutions influence how our managers and colleagues perceive us. These last two elements strongly contribute to obtaining recognition, a key element in well-being at work. By applying the proposed strategies, the new professionals who join an organization will give themselves the best chance of success.

The effectiveness of these strategies is based on the quantity and quality of the relationships one has established with work colleagues. However, we also need to recognize the consequences of remote work for new employees. Some employers may feel there is no need to move new employees to in-person work given that their colleagues are largely working remotely; to that, on the contrary, I would argue that new employees must come to work as often as possible to meet as many people as possible. This implies that it is also necessary to ensure that a group of colleagues from different departments are present at the same time as the recruits. This group can be small, the fact that there are fewer co-workers in person will make it easier to get in touch with every one of them.

Remote work and all its benefits can very well be integrated later, when we have developed our networks, found our mentors, identified our allies and solidified the relationship of trust with our managers.

Andre Raymond Author
André Raymond, CRHA, has a master’s degree in organizational development (développement des organisations) and a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations (relations industrielles) from Laval University. He is a human resources manager with expertise in recruiting, personnel selection and career management. As the Director of the Service de placement and Continuing Education at Laval University, he currently manages a team of 80 employees. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the fields of recruiting, education and career management, having held positions as manager and vice-president. He is an active member of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés du Québec (Quebec Board of certified human resources counsellors) and the Chair of CERIC’s Board of Directors.
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Andre Raymond Author
André Raymond, CRHA, has a master’s degree in organizational development (développement des organisations) and a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations (relations industrielles) from Laval University. He is a human resources manager with expertise in recruiting, personnel selection and career management. As the Director of the Service de placement and Continuing Education at Laval University, he currently manages a team of 80 employees. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the fields of recruiting, education and career management, having held positions as manager and vice-president. He is an active member of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés du Québec (Quebec Board of certified human resources counsellors) and the Chair of CERIC’s Board of Directors.
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