GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Congratulations – you’ve landed a new job! Now, amid the onslaught of new information and your attempts to contribute as soon as you can, you have a vitally important task: connecting with your new coworkers.
Don’t panic! Ted Chalupsky, president and founder of the professional staffing firm The Right Staff, says by paying attention to just a few simple details, you can ensure your relationship with your new team gets off on the right foot – improving the chances that these seasoned professionals will take you under their wings and help your career grow.
Here’s how to reach out in ways that work:
1. Ignore the generation gaps.
Many people struggle to connect with coworkers because they assume that people who aren’t close to them in age will not share their interests or outlook on life. Make an effort to bust this stereotype by introducing yourself to each of your coworkers and asking how they’re doing. You’ll be surprised how much their lives resonate with your own, and they’ll be heartened to see that “the new person” is genuinely interested in them as people.
2. Don’t let the pay differences get you down.
When you’re new on the team, you’re often making less than your seasoned coworkers. In some offices, this leads to discouragement – for instance, when the rest of the team decides to head to a fancy restaurant and split the check, leaving you paying $75 for your $12 appetizer. Ouch!
But your options aren’t “break the bank” or nothing. Instead, get more involved socially by suggesting alternatives (that are also within your budget). For example, you might suggest a picnic lunch that you can bring yourself, a potluck, or a Secret Santa instead of gifts for everyone at the office. You’ll also help establish traditions that will help the next “new person.”
3. Feel free to skip the topics that make you feel different or awkward.
Not every workplace conversation will engage everyone. For instance, if you hate golf but your coworkers love it, you may find yourself smiling and nodding at all the chats about weekends on the links. Don’t sweat it. Instead, wait for conversations on topics you enjoy, then jump in.
But remember to draw the line. There are conversations that make you feel left out as a matter of preference – such as chats about golf – and there are conversations that make you feel left out because they are harassing or discriminatory. The former can be passed over with good grace; the latter should be reported to your human resources representative.