Workforce and Diversity

Embrace The Learning Curve

By Enrico Dinges
February 28th, 2012

 If, like me, you have recently started a new job, you are probably familiar with the excitement, anxiousness and anticipation you experience as the rookie member of a team at a new company.  In many ways, you have to adapt to your new environment using the same approach you would if you had moved to a new country. The best way to navigate this unfamiliar territory is to prepare as much as possible before you begin the adventure.   Visit the company website and read the annual report, the mission statement and media coverage.  This will give you an understanding of what the company stands for and the principle goals driving the business.  Once you are onboard, find a guide, a co-worker that can help you understand the corporate culture, business process and potential pitfalls.

Of course it is helpful when the new company provides a strong orientation program to facilitate the transition.  My employer, Sodexo, provided a unique onboarding experience through an award winning program called Arrive and Drive: Come Alive with Sodexo.  This comprehensive virtual and classroom based orientation introduces managers to the company, all required compliance training, software applications training, critical operations functions, management techniques and a year of self-development. The program allowed me to review materials at my own pace, see certain topics multiple times if I desired and provided links to more information for the topics that were particularly relevant to my position.  This approach was like nothing I had experienced with any previous employer and made me feel that the company was investing in my success right from the beginning.    

There is always going to be a learning curve, but total immersion will help you acclimate faster.  Ask if you can sit in on meetings so you can see how people interact and be sure to make notes.  Is the approach formal or casual? Are there company or industry specific acronyms that you need to learn?  Is innovation or use of technology welcomed or a more traditional approach preferred?  Knowing these basics will help you fit in more quickly.  Don’t be shy about sharing your ideas or taking on projects.  You may not do everything perfectly along the way but that can be the best way to learn and in most cases your efforts will be appreciated.  After all, you were hired because it was recognized that you can contribute to the team. 

So my advice is to embrace the learning curve. Jump right in and you’ll be a native before you know it, helping out the next rookie.

Enrico Dinges is the newest member of Sodexo’s Corporate Communications team supporting external public relations efforts for Diversity and Inclusion and Human Resources. 

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