Whether you’re a travel nurse or locum who frequently starts a new assignment, a recent grad about to start a first job or a seasoned professional making a big career move, starting in a new department can be as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. You know that first impressions are vital. Breathe! Everyone is the newbie at some point. Start your new job on the right foot from day one with these six tips for building strong and positive relationships.
1. Be ready!
Show up on time or, better yet, early. Be sure you’re in the appropriate attire and be well groomed. Do your research. Find out in advance if you need to show up with your own stethoscope, for example. And don’t forget your smile and positive attitude.
2. Be a team player
Introduce yourself to everyone. Make eye contact. Try to learn everyone’s name and befriend them all – maintenance staff to top doc. Prioritize listening instead of talking. Help your co-workers and take an interest in them personally. If you’re a team player you’re less likely to become a target of workplace nonsense and hopefully your co-workers will return the favour and help you out. You’ll need allies, especially in these early days.
“Befriend everyone in the unit – maintenance staff to top doc… You’ll need allies.”
3. Find your mentor
Whether it’s an assigned mentor or just a kind co-worker who will take you under their wing, find that special someone in your unit who you click with and who is willing to help. Be extra gracious and helpful to this person in return.
4. Watch, listen, learn
Pay attention through your orientation. Take notes. Watch how your co-workers do things. But don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking for help is much better than guessing and making mistakes. Of course, you will make mistakes. Admit them, learn from them quickly and move on.
“Of course, you will make mistakes. Admit them, learn from them quickly and move on.”
5. Pay attention to the culture
Every department has its own way of doing things. Embrace that. Resist saying, “we did things differently in my previous department.” Learn how things are done in your new unit by paying keen attention to how your co-workers – and especially senior staff – do things. Part of understanding the culture is also internalizing its hierarchies. There is a formal structure, of course – staff nurse to team manager to nurse manager to director, for example – but also informal leaders within each level too. Sensitize yourself to these dynamics. Respect the practices and power structures.
“Respect the practices and power structures.”
6. Sidestep the drama
Don’t get dragged into the politics and interpersonal drama that run through all departments. Be pleasant with everyone. Avoid participating in gossip. Importantly, do not be tempted to bad-mouth your previous employer. Rise above! Finally, stick up for yourself if you’re being disrespected. You may be the newbie, but you don’t need to be the target of abuse.
“Do not be tempted to bad-mouth your previous employer.”
You know you’re an awesome healthcare provider and a fabulous employee. It’s just a matter of time before your employer and co-workers see that. Good luck with this new chapter. You’re gonna kill it!
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