There’s a lot to be said for being an observer, especially in the workplace. So, whether you’re an employee starting a new job or just a new role, Woods recommends getting the lay of the land before you do anything else.
“You have to take a step back no matter where you worked before and understand the landscape of this organization. A lot of employees don’t take the time to do that,” she explains.
Often this is best achieved by requesting meetings with fellow employees to learn what they do, what skills they have and whom they work with.
Even if such meet-and-greets aren’t part of the traditional onboarding experience, seek it out. Be genuinely curious about other people — what do they do, what do they like, how do they work? — and let that guide you.
After you get a feel for the organizational hierarchy, pay attention to the workplace norms. How are decisions made? How do employees express ideas? How is it perceived when employees speak up in meetings?
All this is to say you should bring your industry expertise to every role but approach a new position with fresh eyes regarding company culture and politics.
Woods explains: “I almost hate to hear people say, ‘This is what we did at my last company,’ because yes, there’s some value in what you’ve learned at other places, but that usually doesn’t go over very well, because we’re not that company. There are so many different nuances; it’s not apples to apples.”