Diverse people working at an office

Are you starting a new job?

Transitioning into a new role is an exciting and challenging phase of the professional journey. You may be tempted to focus all your energy on understanding your work but deciphering the cultural rules plays a big part in your initial success.

As you embark on the journey to figure out the culture of your new organization, an important element to pay attention to is – how communication happens. Understanding this can accelerate your integration into the new role and set you up to succeed. Some key aspects to note are –

–     Organized vs. adhoc – Do people always set meetings in advance and come prepared for the same? Are minutes of meetings shared after every event? I worked in an organization where leaders planned meetings with external clients and blocked calendars but pulled their team to join in at the last minute. This was chaotic and difficult to get used to initially. I learned to stay in touch with my boss’s assistant to stay on top of his calendar. It empowered me to ask specific questions in advance, and not be caught off-guard.

–   Meetings – Are the meetings used to convey decisions, or are they forums to discuss issues and brainstorm ideas? Is the information shared formally in well-laid-out presentations backed by detailed analysis, or does it flow in conversations? How the senior leaders attending the meeting respond to formal presentations vs. informal discussions.

–   Hierarchy – Do people feel free to express their points of view? Do leaders speak more in meetings? Do you need to pre-clear your communications to top bosses with your manager? In less hierarchical organizations, you may be encouraged to email or chat with senior leaders, but this may not work in more-hierarchical ones.

–   Alignment – Even when we speak the same language, we often use it differently. For example, during the initial stages of my career, the head of the unit I worked in always said that he had an open-door policy, and if the door to his office was open, anyone could walk in and discuss anything. He lived by it. However, in most other organizations I worked in later, leaders did follow the ‘open door’ policy but one had to share the agenda in advance and block time with them.

–   Preferred style – How does your manager prefer to consume information? Do they want to hear a summary and read details later, or vice versa? Are they detail-oriented and need to see every ‘t’ barred and ‘i’ dotted, or want a high-level overview and leave the details to you? Do they want milestones reported or more frequently scheduled updates? Do they record their decisions/instructions via email or prefer to share them verbally?

Observing communication patterns helps you determine how work happens in the organization. You have been chosen for your new role based on your past achievements, and you definitely have a point of view on which approach is better. As a newbie, however, keen observation and an open mind will determine how well you make the new environment work for you and write your new success story.

PS – This was first published on LinkedIn as a part of #yourcareermatters series

If you are about to or have just started a new job, consider coaching with me to integrate into your role and expedite your transition. Book a pressure free exploratory session