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Hired, then abandoned–how to become part of the team?

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Question: "I was really looking forward to working for the company that hired me a few weeks ago, but right away I got the sense that no one was very interested in making me feel like I was a valued part of a team. I wasn't introduced to anyone but my boss, and no one sitting near me has introduced themselves. I won't be working with them directly, but it still feels uncomfortable to go into work each day with strangers who seem to want to remain strangers. What course of action would you recommend to a person who's shy and doesn't want to walk around telling people who I am?" - Maddy, Customer Relations

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachael May 15, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Maddy, I certainly understand how you feel. Been there. I would say don’t feel bad about it. Sometimes the boss is not aware of it. I agree with others who say you would need to step out and introduce yourself. No need to wait for your boss to take you around. If you are shy, this would even be better for you to do because it would make people see you as a go-getter, a people person. Nobody would know you are shy. Just introduce yourself, then ask them “how long have you worked here?” and let them talk. You just need to listen at this point – any shy person can do this.

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Hallie May 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm

This exact scenario happened to me in my current job. In hindsight, I realize I had a lot of anxiety after moving into several different positions in rapid succession from my prior company, and then being laid off. My new department is small and quiet – the majority are self-professed introverts! Which I am not…so it’s been an adjustment. My manager and I didn’t have much interaction after I started. There was another manager who helped with my initial HR paperwork and got me started with the basics. But she soon got busy with her own area and I didn’t see her that much. No one really tried to get to know me; no one asked me to join for lunch. I felt really alone! To make matters worse I completely personalized the whole thing, and I wound up being in a very anxious and unhappy state for the better part of my first two years here. And the final straw was that our group implemented 360 degree reviews, wherein your immediate co-workers tell you anonymously your strengths and areas for improvement. My first 360 was OK…but I internalized much of the negative feedback. I was told I wasn’t a team player, etc. Ouch! In my past jobs I had never heard that, because I was only reviewed by my direct supervisor, and for many years not at all. My advice: 1) Have an expectations meeting during the first week of your employment. Come to the meeting SUPER prepared with all your rock-star admin knowledge to ask the right questions about exactly where your boss needs help, and how you can add value in general. I would say not to expect an avalanche of interesting projects at first, but keep the dialogue going over time, even if you have to initiate it every time. 2) Gain some inner peace by giving up judging your co-workers. I’ve done that for the first time in my career, and it helps me to see them in much more gentler terms, and I am in turn more gentle on myself. 3) Stick with it. Research shows that it can take 2 full years to feel REALLY onboarded with a new employer. Give it time…keep the long-term view…take your vacation…and show up ready to give your best – every day! The personal growth is amazing and totally worth it.

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Shawn Lanphere May 6, 2016 at 8:04 am

Ask questions. Go up to someone and ask, “Where can I find the office supplies?” Or ask directions, “Where is Mr. Smith’s office?” You can then explain that you are new to the company and haven’t learned your way around. Does your company have an HR department? Ask them about the company culture. Is there a rule against fraternization? Maybe the company has strict rules about who can communicate with who. Ask your boss. If you can’t get answers I would highly recommend you seek another employer.

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Nancy May 6, 2016 at 7:09 am

I am sorry you are having such an experience. As a very shy person I can understand how hard it is. It seems so easy for some people so it is bad for self esteem. Just know you are valued and do your best to smile and say good morning. Eventually people will warm to your smile and sincerity. Some companies, like some places you live, just aren’t conducive to making relationships. You always have a choice. If you find it difficult, you have options until you find a more nurturing environment. You always have the Office Dynamics community. Best wishes to you.

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Cheryl May 6, 2016 at 4:51 am

I am afraid it will be up to you. But, if I can take this a step further, why not make it better for the next person? If they are not properly introduced, take them around. Introduce them to people and then, take them to coffee or lunch and answer any questions they may have. You shouldn’t have to be going through this, but something good can come out of it.

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Kathe May 5, 2016 at 4:17 pm

I glanced through some of the responses and am surprised that so many of them entailed you making the rounds. It is the responsibility of the company and staff that hired you to introduce you to the rest of the group and provide a proper onboarding experience. I seriously can’t imagine staying with a company that didn’t think enough of me to introduce me to my co-workers.

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Lynn April 25, 2016 at 11:14 am

It is standard practice here that all new employees are given a tour of the entire facility and introduced to their workgroup members on their first day. This eases the “firsts” and shows the lay of the land. Since your boss didn’t provide this service to you, you’re going to have to do it yourself. Pick one friendly face and ask if they can show you around.

Wander the hallways when you’re taking a break. Everyone uses the restrooms. If there’s a coffee bar or cafeteria, see who visits, and just say hello.

Since you’re in customer service, you’re going to have to get over the “shy” issue. You must speak up for yourself, because no one else will.

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Eline M. April 22, 2016 at 9:39 am

I’m afraid it will be up to you to introduce yourself. If you’re allowed treats at your desk to share, I recommend you bake up a batch of cookies, bread or get to the store to buy some treats. Have something non-gluten, nut-free or sugar-free if you can. This should cover most of the major dietary issues – just remember to label all items appropriately and keep the items with nuts away from everything else.

Walk around the office, stop at each person you see and introduce yourself while at the same time inviting them to partake of your goodies. You can say that you’ve just recently started and during that hectic time, you just weren’t able to stop by to say hello. This should break the ice with some of the workers, who may be feeling as shy as you are. Those who are on a special diet (gluten/sugar-free, have nut allergies, etc.) will be impressed you took the time to think about those needs.

Good luck!

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Diana April 22, 2016 at 9:30 am

Bring in a platter of good danish and fruit in the morning for everyone to enjoy. You could put a little note next to it wishing everyone to have a wonderful day and sign your name. Hopefully, your coworkers will be kind enough to say thank you and then conversations can begin to happen. Also, as you walk to your desk in the morning, say good morning to everyone you pass by and remember to always smile. Good luck. – Diana

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Annabelle April 21, 2016 at 5:02 pm

First of all, it was rude of your boss not to introduce you around. The company that I work for, it’s standard practice for the supervisor to walk the person around introducing them to people. Speaking as a former shy person, I know how it feels to be in a room of new people. Being that nobody acknowledges you, I wonder if there is an underlying reason. Is the turnover really high? Where the people don’t think it’s worth it to get to know the new kid? Did somebody leave that they really liked? Is it a bad work environment and people just want to do their jobs and not be messed with? Do they talk to each other a lot? I work with a very friendly group of people and it’s just odd to me that nobody would at least extend a hand of friendship to you. I agree with the others, try and find the friendliest person. Or notice things on the other people’s desk, pictures, sports memorabilia, anything to be an icebreaker. Or if you see another woman, wearing a pretty shirt or shoes. People love compliments. Pretty shirt, by the way I’m…..(insert your name here) If you discover people’s passions and interests, it will free up the shyest person’s tongue. Good Luck!

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Laurie April 21, 2016 at 4:27 pm

My recommendation is to go and introduce yourself. Prepare a one – two minute “elevator speech.” (I do this before I go into any new work environment – I worked as a Contractor for three years.) Ending with a question asking what their background is. As they reply, find something that suggests they may be a SME in a certain area. Then ask if you can rely on them to assist you in that area as you familiarize yourself with the company. This has worked for me in many cases.

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Shawn Lanphere May 6, 2016 at 7:52 am

What is an SME?

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Tenia Griggers May 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

SME is Subject Matter Expert

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Becky April 21, 2016 at 4:23 pm

It can be really difficult to be the “new kid”. Look around and find the friendliest face in the bunch and introduce yourself to that one person. Suggest taking a break or going to lunch together. Ask your new-found friend to show you around the office and introduce you to your new colleagues. Hopefully, things will take off from there.

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Stephanie April 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I like the above-referenced comments as to introductions. However, add another twist. If you like to bake, bake a simple fingerfood or healthy dip with appealing fruits and vegetables arranged nicely on a tray. Place it in a common break area. The staff will come flocking!!! (Remember, A way to a person’s soul is through their stomach!!!). This also might bring a smile to those faces and before too long, inquiries will be wondering who made this beautiful tray!! Walla!! Hellos and compliments will generate from everyone!!!

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Lisa April 21, 2016 at 4:21 pm

You could take note of who seems to super friendly and strike up a conversation at the coffeemaker or copier with that person. Also, choose a person who seems “connected” to others and try to talk to them. It occurred to me that there might be a reason the other employees are not talking to you. It could be that one of your co-workers wanted your job but was not qualified or just overlooked by management. If that is the case, they are not upset at you, just upset in general. At any rate, it takes time to make acquaintances (or co-workers) into friends. In a year, things may be totally different!

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Marilyn April 21, 2016 at 4:19 pm

If you were hired for “customer relations” how do you do your job without talking to people and introducing yourself. Just because the people around you have bad manners and not introducing you. Step up, reach out your hand, look them in the eye and say “Hi, I’m Maddy, I’m new in Customer Relations. Demonstrate your own good manners by taking initiative yourself.

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Tesstarosa April 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Mark and Debra have both offered great suggestions.

Another option could simply be to ask one of your colleagues to join you for a coffee break so you can talk to them about the company — things they found useful to know, something you might want to avoid so you don’t clash with the company culture, etc. You could do it in a 1-1 setting or invite a small group.

You definitely don’t want Mark’s scenario where both sides are thinking the other side is ignoring them.

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Violeta April 21, 2016 at 4:11 pm

I would also introduce myself. Seems a little rude that nobody welcomed you, but it is on them. Take the initiative and do it yourself. Who knows? Maybe they are just shy. Regardless of what happens, the office culture is very important. If it does not work out, then move on to a company where the company culture is much better. Good luck!

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Debra April 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

What about asking your boss to take you around and introduce you? Perhaps it was just an oversight on his part, but if not, it takes the tension off of your having to “cold” meet them yourself. The only other suggestion is that food is always a great introductions, so bite the bullet, purchase some muffins or pastries and bring them into the office and place them in a prominent place. Put a small sign on them that says: “Compliments of your new office colleague “_____”, please enjoy the _______ and stop by and introduce yourself please.

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Mark April 21, 2016 at 1:10 pm

Introductions are a two-way street. Although I do think that it SHOULD be up to the existing staff to introduce themselves to you, if they won’t, and since it bothers you, you’ll have to step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to them. (Or, accept the fact that you just don’t work with overly-friendly people.) There could be a chance that some of them, too, are shy. As a shy person myself, I am greatly relieved when someone else is the first to introduce themselves and start conversation. Alternatively, it could be that they thinking the exact same thing about you, wondering “Why won’t the new person come introduce herself to me? She must want to remain strangers.”

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