Starting a new job is exciting but often a bit overwhelming, too. Besides learning the ropes of your new position, you’ll also need to figure out the office social dynamics. You’ll want to build relationships as a new hire that help you fit in and further your career.
By Yvonne Milosevic
Bonding with colleagues when you join a new company has many benefits. For one, it helps you adjust to the new office culture faster. Plus, these folks can pass along valuable skills that make your job easier. Having solid peer relationships also makes you less likely to become disengaged and quit. Today we’re exploring the best ways to create strong connections in a new environment. Because, as research shows, we all need friends at work.
Do This to Build Relationships as a New Hire
Ask questions. Most people at your new company will want to help you settle in and thrive on the team. Don’t hesitate to tap into the institutional knowledge of your colleagues. Show them that you also want to lend a hand wherever you can. Find out what they need and ask if you can do something to make their lives easier.
Have a positive attitude. To build healthy relationships, steer clear of the water cooler gossip and have a positive attitude toward your new coworkers. One sarcastic comment or questionable joke can damage how colleagues perceive you before you’ve had a chance to cement a good impression. Plus, bringing an optimistic attitude to the office goes a long way toward improving communication.
Show appreciation. Everyone wants to feel respected and appreciated. Recognize when your new colleagues are killing it on an important project. Thank them when they take the time to answer your questions and help you acclimate to the quirks of the office. Look, we all bring different life experiences and perspectives to the table. Showing respect for others’ views and ideas will set the stage for effective and creative collaboration.
Include everyone. Sometimes new hires focus their attention only on their supervisor or senior management. Sure, you want to impress the VIPs and make them happy they hired you. But remember that your interactions with everybody at the office are what forge your reputation. Don’t act dismissive of junior colleagues. Showing consideration for all—juniors, peers, and bosses—helps build your sterling rep.
One Caveat to Consider
Is there such thing as overdoing it when building peer relationships at a new job? Research from professors Le Zhou and Elizabeth Campbell at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management indicates that the answer is yes—in some cases, at least.
As they recently explained in Harvard Business Review, too much emphasis on relationship building can backfire and hinder one’s ability to grow and advance. The researchers analyzed data from 180+ employees over three years to understand the impact of building early connections with peers on various longer-term outcomes.
In the end, Zhou and Campbell identified a Goldilocks effect among the participants. They found that “Rookie employees with too many connections with their fellow new hires actually struggled to ramp up as quickly as those with fewer cohort relationships.”
“Connections with new hires outside your core group may not add much value when it comes to ramping up in your specific role in the first few months on the job,” they say. And what’s worse, “Excessive networking by new hires can become a distraction from actually learning to do their jobs.”
Sidestepping these potential pitfalls can happen with management’s help if they facilitate meaningful connections between new hires. They should also encourage newcomers to balance networking with learning about work tasks.
Managers should check in with new hires to gauge their progress in building relationships and gaining necessary work-related skills. That’s an ideal time to identify opportunities for support and adjustment, these professors suggest.
“Ultimately, there’s no shortcut to finding happiness and success at work,” Campbell and Zhou said. “But with the right mix of tactical support and relationship building, new hires can get up to speed quickly, boosting long-term wellbeing, performance, and retention.”