Guidelines on how to position yourself at a new job
One of the key aspects of managing our career path, and one that starts the moment we arrive at a new job, is to position ourselves. When speaking about job satisfaction, we talk about the things we can and we can not influence. Career satisfaction is connected with numerous constituents, and within these, we may find some we have influence over. Examples of these constituents include the perspective we choose, the criteria we use when making decisions, how often we evaluate our behaviors and habits, whether we wonder about how others see us and how we contribute to other people’s views. Finding the answers to these questions, as well as establishing conscious intentions, are the first steps towards self-positioning.
In any new work environment, the positioning process starts as early as the interview. Before we get into negotiations about money or benefits, we need to remember something equally important. We need to be aware of the fact that our verbal and non-verbal behavior will affect our new boss’s expectations. What does this mean? It means that we can consciously influence other people’s expectations.
Let’s say we’re already past this phase. We have chosen a career, have actively searched for a job, found a position, and have been made an offer.
We have accepted the offer, and it’s time to start. Now what?
Many of us wonder what our futures will look like. How will our colleagues see us? How will we connect with our team, coworkers or boss? What direction will our career go in? The answers to these questions will depend on, among other things, how we position ourselves.
During the initial days at a new workplace, our managers and teammates are getting to know us. As we have a direct influence on this process, we can determine the nature of our future relationships and experiences. So, it’s important to remember that it’s not only our bosses who can determine and make rules. We can do it too by adjusting our behaviors and latently setting boundaries.
Any work role is more than just a job description. It is created and brought to life through the way we do our job, communicate with others, and create relations. It’s important that we’re aware of these processes because our comfort within our work role will greatly depend on how we defined it in the first place. The more a role resembles ourselves, the more comfortable it will be for us to inhabit, which will result in our satisfaction.
We only have one chance to make a first impression.
People tend to think in categories – so-called “mental boxes.” When we meet someone, we create an image based on our interactions with them. We analyze their behavior and put them into one of our own existing “mental boxes.” This process greatly depends on our previous experiences, our beliefs, prejudice, and opinions.
The category in which a person places us and the attributes they assign to us (e.g. hardworking, a good colleague, relaxed, strict, disinterested, lazy, clumsy, etc.) will determine how the person acts towards us. Although we can’t affect other people’s behaviors or thoughts, we can make changes to our own behaviors, choosing the ones that will get us closer to the image we want others to have of us.
This is why it is important that we ourselves know how we want to position from the very beginning. Our biggest impression will be our first. We don’t necessarily have to think about it in terms of a first encounter, first minute or hour, but it’s important to note that it is made within a short period of time. The length of this period depends on the frequencies of our meetings with a person, as well as on the intensity of our interactions.
Here, I would point out that it’s not impossible to change someone’s first impression of us. But, as time passes, people will get to know our habits and behaviors, so the image will settle in. Once someone puts us in a “mental box,” they’re likely to see us through its prism and seek affirmation for their opinions within our behaviors. Thus, if we decide in the future that we want to change something, it will take more effort. But, it won’t be impossible! What this means is that if you haven’t been aware of this topic, it’s still not late. 🙂
Where do we start?
If you’re ready to invest the time and position yourself at a new job, you need to consider the following questions:
- What has been your typical role so far?
- How did people see you?
- Did you do anything to contribute to this?
- What role do you want to have in the future?
- How do you want to feel in your new environment?
- What sort of relationships do you want to build?
- How do you determine your actions in order to feel that way?
- What can you do to ensure your vision comes true?
The answers to these questions will help you create intentions. Intentions are connected to both our conscious and unconscious.
A defined intention helps our conscious and unconscious thoughts synchronize.
When we have an intention, it’s visible in our verbal and non-verbal communication. And more importantly, a conscious intention helps us change our habits and common behaviors. By defining our intentions, we are creating instructions for our senses on what to register, and for our will what to manifest.
Examples of intentions that could help you position yourself at a new job include:
- Whatever the company culture, I want to have good relationships with my colleagues.
- My intention is to be curious.
- No matter how taxing a job is, I intend to be positive.
- Whatever happens, my intention is to say NO to things that aren’t in line with my core values.
- My intention is to connect with as many people in my company, regardless of whether we work on the same team.
- I want to be an approachable boss.
- However difficult a situation, I intend to always say what I really think about a problem or solution.
- My intention is to be visible.
There is no one recipe for defining intention. But, there is a single rule. It needs to be positively oriented because our minds don’t understand negations.
There’s the famous polar bear experiment: Try not to think of a polar bear. Did you see it? Did you think about it? Our biology is oriented in a way that when we define a negation in our minds, our thoughts go straight to it.
Which is exactly why our intentions need to be positive. They should be about what we want. Not about things we don’t.
Besides these defined intentions, when preparing to position yourself at a new job, you should also have answers to the following questions:
- What’s in this job/company for me?
- What is the meaning I give to this job?
- What do I have from doing this job, besides monetary compensation?
These answers will serve as reminders when times are hard and we start questioning reasons we are in a certain place, or why such a place is good for us.
Finally, if you decide that it’s time to make a change in your professional life, it’s important that you have defined the criteria you’ll base your decisions on, as well as to prepare for leaving your current work environment.
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