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Know Your Role

Fitting in and finding out what makes your colleagues tick


When you are new to an organisation, you need to understand your status.

Your colleagues who have been there for a while will expect to be able to advance before you so you need to take care in how you pursue your ambitions. You need to develop good relationships with colleagues, and appreciate that they too have ambitions. Being both cooperative and competitive is a tricky balance.

Your managers and supervisors are just other people doing a job, with needs very much like your own. Never forget this. They will have pressures on them from their own managers and supervisors. They will want to progress as well, and will be unlikely to promote your interests without taking account of their own.

You should privately appraise your new colleagues, including your managers and supervisors, in order to try and work out what drives them. It is worth thinking about how to align your own interests with those of the people you are working for and with.

Your new colleagues can show you how to do things and support you. You need them, so be appreciative. Don’t take them for granted, don’t impose unnecessarily, and help them wherever you can.

Being Compromised

Some of your new colleagues will be less helpful and straight with you than you would hope. They may see you as the competition. They might encourage you to take on certain opportunities to give you experience. But these opportunities may create problems for you rather than benefits. Once you’ve taken something on it may be very difficult to dump later on.

The new opportunities given to you may be just a way for a person to offload a task that they don’t like doing. They may even be setting you up to fail.

You may encounter conspiracies and violations, where you are expected to break the rules, and maybe even break the law. You have to decide the extent to which you are willing to be drawn in. The benefits you gain from being accepted into the group may not justify the risks you may are now be expected to take.

There will already be relationships in existence, including relationships between other staff and your boss. Be cautious about what you say and when you say it, until you understand how things work.

Don’t act suspiciously of everybody, but don’t jump in and assume everybody is your best friend. Most of the time, most people are nice, but be cautious. Hold your counsel, take advice, learn the job and show willing. Learn about how your team fits into the organisation.

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