Valley of Anguish. The express tour

18 02 2009

How to face your new job part I.

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past month, it has been almost two weeks since I started at my new workplace. As it is customary I would like to share some impressions and feelings I’ve struggled with, hoping these can help others while facing a similar situation.

Before we get down to the bare bones, black and white, details of my experience I feel a little background is needed. Having fortune played a major role on my life it didn’t let me down and again touched me: while preparing the road for my personal venue I was reached and asked to participate on an interview process.  Knowing sometimes interesting challenges and professional opportunities knock at your door in unexpected ways I went to the meeting. Four interviews, three psychological tests, one medical check and lots of paper signing later I am now writing this while getting used to my new role: SubManager for LAN Airlines Argentina’s Internet Channel –mouthful-.

So what kind of feelings I have had while entering a whole new unexpected venue? As far as I am concerned I’ve been thru three major phases during my introduction to the new surroundings: Anguish, delusion, serenity. It is about the first phase I would write in this post: the valley of anguish a.k.a. SMOG* I am a recruiting blunder.

 

Una lectura de Edvard Munch by Eneas

Una lectura de Edvard Munch by Eneas

 

Day 1, introduction 1

After filling out the regular paper work required for every new employee, I walked into my first introductory meeting with my new boss. After the expected greetings and still wielding a million dollar smile I opened my moleskin and started writing down what ever information I found was either new to me or sounded as if it was a core issue I must handle in the near future. There was some talk about the hierarchical structure (“you are here”), the matrix relationship with the holding structure, who were the individuals and the roles of my direct team and the service teams I would be working with, etc.

Suddenly, I felt as if I had just opened a submarine hatch while under the deep sea: my moleskin was being scribbled all over the place, I wasn’t able to discern whether the numbers I was being introduced to were positive numbers or were things I needed to fix, and on top of all that I had a starry page covered with acronyms I needed to check later in order to understand +80% of what I was being talked about. And then is when anxiety kicked in: “OMG would I ever be able to match head and tail of all this? Who was the moron who hired me believing I would be able to handle all this? Who am I kidding?”

The other introductory meetings ran more or less by the same script and I ended my first two days with a major headache and a bashed ego.

Day 3, meeting 1

Once I hit 80+% of my introduction to this whole new crazy travel industry, my boss kindly suggested I went to an operational steering committee so I can get a sense of the things I  would be doing on a daily basis. It goes without saying, I had already lost my smile and had instead a Bert look (don’t we all frown when we are concentrating?) with which I entered meeting room number 2028.

Routine introductions made we jumped in into what might be my worst meeting ever. I couldn’t help myself raising my hand every 5 minutes or so to ask something: “Would you please explain to me what PRK stands for?” “Would you kindly remind me the cost structure we use?” and so on. Thankfully instead of being the target for condescending smiles, general sighing and other kinds of boredom and disapproval manifestations, all of my fellow coworkers kindly answered all my questions.

Day 5, meeting 3

Anguish was gone and I was experiencing a Nirvana of sorts, where I started to understand more of what I was being told and even risked offering my opinion. The Nirvana was the calm before the storm, but that will be the subject of a future post: “So you want to be a hero?”.

So, what happened during day 3 and 4 that helped me conquer my anguish? How would my experience help you cope with a similarly scary situation?

 Believe others know what they do

 While reviewing my posts and talking with my friends about my anguishing circumstances I came to realize this: If you were the candidate who was hired it means human resources saw in you the competence to not only match the corporate culture, the industry needs but also the potential to ride your role to new positive places. Hey, human resources is for sure responsible for hiring the other 1k+ employees and the company didn’t disappeared because of them!

Prepare yourself to adaptation

Let’s get real: every place has its own rules and you need to adapt to them if you want to survive. I am not only talking about a whole industry change, as it is my case, organizations are made up by individuals and as such they gather different traits and thus produce different environments. If you think you could survive a whole new culture by sticking to the conducts you might have had at your past job prepare for a mighty struggle.

Check your ego at the door

Some might have an uncalled need to expose themselves as an expert on every single subject. Why play as if you were not in a team if you could tap into others to obtain knowledge? Everyone else have been in your same situation before and if they are not un interestingly offering their help it is still in their best interests to help you get up and operational as fast as possible. Forget about how you would look and keep asking until you feel you can understand what others are talking about. Ignorance is not a bad trait if you are working to correct it.  

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5 responses

18 02 2009
vazquezjm

I guess the title of the post should have been: Catharsis 2.0? 😀

Now, seriously, I been through the same feelings a few weeks ago. Family and friends (even ex-colleagues) are a great help in situations like these. Insight meditation helps a lot too, but you need time for your self. I guess this is because our ego and the belief that we can manage almost anything until we face reality.

Regarding asking questions all the time, here’s a Chinese proverb I read once:
“He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”

Good luck with your new endeavour!

18 02 2009
masan

It wasn’t meant as a catharsis though it sounded like one. Thank you for your quick read and kind reply, I am without doubt leaning on my friends, family and coworkers to get thru the introduction phase as fast and steadfast as possible.

19 02 2009
Akira

As always, very interesting stuff you deal with (am I talking like Yoda or something?).

Anyway, while reading about your anguish situations, I came to realize that I live almost everyday feeling something very similar in my daily life. For example, everyone at the office tells me what a “genius” I am and I can’t stop feeling like the dumbest person in the entire world.

Who in the hell though I was good for this job at all? I believe it’s like the graduate sindrom: the student who walks away from an institute with a diploma in one hand and the feeling that he knows even less than before.

I’m struggling everyday with this feeling and trying to convince myself that I am where I am because of certain abilities and not by pure luck.

Good luck with that acronyms! =D, your best Akira.

PS: Still feeling the dumbest person in the universe.

19 02 2009
Francisco

Great post! thx for sharing!
Looking forward for part II

Good luck

25 02 2009
Dario

Excellent post! Probably the best one yet. 🙂

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