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Afraid of failing at a new job?

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in Your Office Coach

Question: “Two weeks ago, I started a job with a new company. Although my manager initially seemed thrilled to have me on board, I now sense that I’m not living up to her expectations. However, I’m not sure exactly what those expectations are. My main problem is there isn't much structure here.  Random projects are thrown at me by my boss and others. Work is dumped on my desk without explanation. I have no background in this business, so I’m not sure how to approach these tasks.  What can I do?” — Afraid of Failing

Marie’s Answer: Joining a new company is always an adjustment, but some transitions are tougher than others. Here are some things to consider:

•    There could be several reasons for your discomfort. You simply may be in a normal new-job learning curve. You and your manager might have diametrically opposed work styles. Or you could have landed in a completely dysfunctional work environment.  

•    Regardless of the cause, the first step toward solving the problem is to talk with your boss.  Since she’s been shirking her responsibility to get you up to speed, you need to take the initiative and schedule a meeting with her.  

•    Ask what you’re doing well and where you need to improve. Clarify any confusing job duties.  Request help in prioritizing the arbitrary assignments coming at you from all directions. Then schedule regular feedback meetings to assess your progress.

•    Finally, take every opportunity to learn from your co-workers. Joining a new organization is like moving to a foreign country. The “natives” can help you decode the culture and avoid embarrassing blunders.

To assess your own organization's culture, check out How to Spot the "Culture Clues" at Work.

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