Adaptation in the workplace: types, methods, periods

Everyone fits into a new team in different ways. One after three days is already the soul of the company, an informal leader and everyone’s favorite. But this is rare. Usually, for a newcomer, the first time in a new place is stressful. The man doesn’t know anyone and hasn’t gotten into the job yet. Let's figure out together how to help a new employee adapt to the team, understand the peculiarities of the job and become part of the team . Forward!

Working with adaptation consists of two large parts. Part one is to help the new employee integrate into the team . The second is to get comfortable with professional responsibilities . These parts can and should be combined - everything should happen in parallel. Let's start with socialization.

What is adaptation

Adaptation to a new workplace is the period of familiarization of an employee with a hitherto unknown activity, organization, team, regulation of his behavior according to unusual requirements.

According to statistics, most newly hired employees leave their place of work at this time. Reasons: difficulties in the adaptation process, discrepancy between the real situation and expectations.

For the onboarding of a new employee to be successful and painless, it must be a two-way process. The personnel department, management, and colleagues should do their best to facilitate the “infusion” of a newcomer into their organization or team. Depending on the support and assistance provided, adaptation in the workplace can proceed in various ways:

  1. Preservation of individualism - a new employee does not deny the main values ​​of the company, but ignores secondary ones (for example, corporate traditions, holidays), and tries to stay somewhat aloof.
  2. Mimicry - an employee, on the contrary, supports secondary values, but denies the main ones, hiding it from the team. Such newcomers often leave their new place of work.
  3. Denial - the employee does not hide his dislike for the existing routine in the company. He will call them the reason for his speedy dismissal.
  4. Conformism - the employee sincerely accepts new rules, values, responsibilities, and successfully becomes a “cog in the system.”

Let's summarize

Onboarding should not be viewed as a process of learning a new job. It involves immersing an employee in a new environment, understanding the rules of behavior, interacting in a team, accepting corporate norms, and establishing relationships with colleagues and partners. The adaptation process is mutual: the organization evaluates the employee, and the employee evaluates the organization. A lot of time is spent searching for a suitable specialist, especially a highly qualified one, so every employer is interested in ensuring that the employee starts working with maximum efficiency and benefit as quickly as possible. Adaptation of new employees can go in different ways: somewhere a newcomer is thrown into the thick of things, hoping that he will figure it out on his own; somewhere they are treated with care so that the stress experienced by the employee is minimal. It is important to understand that the duration of adaptation does not coincide with the duration of the probationary period; it can take up to four months or more. A developed adaptation plan, the assignment of a mentor, and a system of training and corporate education will help speed it up.

Stages of adaptation

Let’s figure out what stages of adaptation an employee goes through in a new workplace:

  1. External reorientation. It is difficult for a person to accept new values ​​and routines; he painfully perceives what he is not used to and does not agree with. However, at the same time, he strives to hide these negative emotions.
  2. Gradual mutual recognition of the employee by the team and vice versa.
  3. Perceiving the team's values ​​without incorporating them into your own value system.
  4. Gradual acceptance of new rights and responsibilities, corporate culture, as well as restructuring of one’s personality and behavior to suit new conditions.
  5. Harmonious fusion of the individual with the team.

Failure at any of these stages often becomes a reason for voluntary dismissal.

Reasons for mobbing

  • When a lot of tension accumulates in the team itself, but there is no outlet for this tension for a long period, then it may well “shoot” at a new person who is not so familiar, and for now he is more like an object, because the relationship has not been formed.
  • Management does not know how to manage people, set goals, strategies and prioritize, so it can affect the microclimate among employees.
  • An incorrectly established channel of communication between management and subordinates, in this case, the possession of any information causes the illusion of power in one of the colleagues, which he will manipulate.
  • When a company is in crisis, sometimes bullying is carried out artificially so that at the end of the probationary period you will want to quit yourself, having worked a fair amount of the allotted time, giving your all. Or say that you were not selected because you did not cope, but this is in the case when there are too many unjustified claims against you from management.

You can read more about mobbing here.

Parts of adaptation

Adaptation in the workplace is divided into two parts: primary and secondary. The first is the appearance of a new employee in the team. Her goals:

  • getting a newbie into work as soon as possible;
  • redistribution of work responsibilities;
  • full replacement of a departing employee;
  • socialization in a team;
  • vocational guidance.

Secondary adaptation in the workplace overtakes an employee during promotion, retraining, transfer to another department, workshop, etc. The goals of this period:

  • stabilization of the collective climate;
  • achieving full compliance with the requirements for the new position;
  • adaptation to a new status;
  • changing your role in the team.

Techniques of an Adaptable Person

Speaking about methods of adaptation in the workplace, one cannot fail to mention the unconscious techniques that psychologists identify in a person who is getting used to a new team:

  1. “They greet you by their clothes.” The first thing a newcomer pays attention to is the appearance, clothing, and behavior of future colleagues. Such a superficial assessment at the initial stage helps to build an idea of ​​the personality and business qualities of each member of the new team.
  2. Stratification. A new employee divides his colleagues into mini-groups: careerists, assistants, informal leaders, eccentrics, comedians, first ladies, outcasts, etc. He begins to evaluate their well-being, ability to behave in a team, build relationships with superiors, and the degree of liking for themselves . Based on this, the new member begins to build appropriate communication with each one.
  3. Group identification. At this stage, the employee chooses for himself one of the strategies he has defined and begins to structure his behavior according to his status. Belonging to a certain group creates a feeling of security; a person begins to gradually feel like he belongs in the new team.
  4. Intergroup discrimination. The employee exalts “his” group over others, treats others condescendingly, and always finds the advantages of his choice.

Don't be afraid of conflicts

Professional disputes with more experienced colleagues are not easy for a beginner. His opinion is not yet highly valued in the new team, and his skills and knowledge do not always inspire confidence. If you are confident in your decision and want to defend it, do not give free rein to your emotions - this will only ruin the relationship. In difficult situations, it is worth enlisting the support of management.

“If you have to defend a decision to a colleague, and he resists, you don’t need to immediately go to your superiors. It is better to communicate, and in a meeting room face to face, rather than in correspondence. I always emphasize that my proposal will help both him and the company - here we have a common goal.

It happens that a colleague behaves inappropriately, does little useful work himself and complains to everyone about me. Then I first talk separately with my manager, then arrange a meeting for three or four if that employee reports to another manager,” says Maya.

Learn new things from your colleagues and thank them for their help - this will help smooth the edges and make a good impression. Helpful comments on a project from a more experienced employee or a remark about a suitable work style are also part of the adaptation.

“Sincere compliments and praise always work. I definitely thank you for any help and comments. If I need to involve a manager or a colleague much older and more experienced than me in coordinating a decision, I start the conversation with what kind of professionals they are, how their opinion and experience are important to me. Then, even if their comments go against my decision, they are more willing to listen to my position more patiently,” says Maya.

Lack of experience is not necessarily a cause for conflict: people like to help others and feel needed. Such mentors immediately put you at ease and are easy to learn from, says Andrey:

“I reach out to the authority that I myself have chosen, I try to listen. When I worked at the factory, the shift supervisor guided me in everything. This is an experienced person who knew the specific installation well. All newcomers were assigned to his team: he could explain the technology as clearly as possible and knew how to find contact with people. He liked it when people showed interest in production.”

To generally reduce the number of conflict situations, choose companies that are close to you in spirit and values. Then you will be much less likely to encounter situations that seem unacceptable, and this will make adaptation much easier, says psychologist Sergei Rogulev:

“It is important how close and familiar the applicant is to the system of relationships and rules in the organization. Therefore, during interviews, recruiters sometimes ask about family: which relatives work or worked where. The child learns principles and values, social roles from his parents and immediate environment. It is very important here to understand what I want, what is acceptable to me. A conscientious candidate is less likely to come to work for a company that is alien to him. Otherwise, adaptation turns into an emotional swing and ends with dismissal of one’s own free will.”

Types of adaptation in the workplace

The entire adaptation process is divided into four groups:

  • psychophysiological;
  • professional (familiarization with the profession);
  • socio-psychological (getting to know the team);
  • organizational (familiarization with the company itself).

A more detailed analysis of them:

  1. Organizational adaptation. Successful activity in a new workplace is possible only when a person thoroughly knows everything about his company: history, tasks, goals, development prospects, its achievements and unpleasant moments in history. It is important to have an idea of ​​its structure, managers, answers to vital questions: “Where is the HR department, canteen, service parking?”, “Where can I get a tabulogram?”, “Who should I contact with questions about my work activities?” etc. The employer’s responsibility is to convey all this information to the newcomer in a condensed and structured form, and the latter’s responsibility is to try to “digest” it in a short time.
  2. Social and psychological adaptation of personnel in the workplace. Close acquaintance with the team, the norms of corporate culture, establishing interpersonal and business communication, joining informal groups. The newcomer not only gets acquainted with new norms of behavior, he must already begin to follow them, while the team treats him with caution, evaluates him, and forms an opinion. Therefore, for most, this adaptation is the most difficult.
  3. Professional adaptation in the workplace. Filling knowledge gaps, retraining, familiarization with new work standards and its specifics. To facilitate this type of habituation, many organizations practice rotations, mentoring, instruction, and a “student” period.
  4. Psychophysical adaptation of employees in the workplace. This is the restructuring of your body and habits to a new work and rest regime - a shift work schedule, business trips, irregular working hours, a “home office”. This also includes adapting to a new workplace, rest and hygiene rooms, and an unusual route to work.

Possible mistakes

You can’t conflict with new colleagues or contradict your boss

You need to know what actions will be unacceptable:

  • you cannot break the established rules;
  • it is unacceptable to criticize or discuss anyone;
  • you cannot compare your current place with your previous job, in particular, discuss work issues;
  • there is no need to conflict with anyone;
  • you cannot transfer your behavior from one job to another, especially if the specializations were completely opposite;
  • there is no need to boast to people about your abilities and intellectual data;
  • you cannot bend under pressure from colleagues and abandon your principles;
  • there is no need to dwell on your mistakes, treat them as experience;
  • Don’t be overly active or passive;
  • there is no need to rush to draw conclusions, it is better to weigh everything;
  • You should not forget about your well-being and health;
  • there is no need to suck up or flatter someone;
  • You can’t be overly self-confident;
  • It is unacceptable to comment on the decisions and actions of the boss.

Now you know what adaptation is like at work. You need to be prepared for the fact that the process may be lengthy. Be patient and realize that all people go through this at some point in their lives. Remember the recommendations outlined in this article, follow the adaptation rules and avoid mistakes.

Duration of the adaptation period

The period of adaptation in the workplace does not have any clearly defined boundaries: some people manage to harmoniously join the team in a couple of weeks, others need several months or even a couple of years. The optimal period is considered to be three months - the duration of the probationary period.

The end of the adaptation period is indicated by the following employee characteristics:

  • copes with all work tasks assigned to him, including non-standard ones;
  • bears responsibility for his actions;
  • knows the structure of the company well, navigates the environment of managers and colleagues, and is in a non-conflict relationship with them;
  • successfully mastered the types of technology, equipment, computer programs, etc. necessary for work;
  • knows the company's system of punishments and rewards;
  • complies with the norms of corporate culture;
  • belongs to one of the informal groups of the team.

A few final general tips

  1. Be open and friendly. This rule applies not only to newcomers, but also to all other employees.
  2. Be honest. Immediately reveal all your cards to the employee: salary amount, possible punishments for violations, unspoken company rules.
  3. Correct the employee’s behavior in a timely manner. If a person does something wrong and you see it, talk about it right away. Human nature is such that everyone immediately senses the weakness of their superiors. If you weren’t punished a couple of times for being late, rest assured: they will quickly become a habit.
  4. Make timely decisions about the fate of the new employee. If a person is on a probationary period and you see that you are not on the same path, then it is better to leave immediately. This is what the trial period is for.

What do you do when a new employee joins the team? Write to us in the comments on social networks - let's discuss it together!

Introduction to the position

As already mentioned, employee adaptation to a new workplace is a two-way process. In a successful and developing company, a newcomer will not be given a “young fighter course”, but will do everything possible for his smooth and painless entry into the team and adaptation to the workplace. Typically, an induction program is drawn up for this purpose. It varies depending on the following conditions:

  • characteristics of a beginner’s work;
  • his status and level of responsibility;
  • the team where he will end up;
  • personal characteristics of the future employee identified during the interview.

The following persons participate in the program:

  • immediate managers;
  • colleagues who can become direct mentors;
  • employees from other departments with whom the newcomer’s activities will be closely related;
  • personnel department

The program includes three large stages.

Adaptation does not happen on its own

No matter how cool the professional is. There is a widespread belief that if we hire a super cool professional, he will certainly figure out what to do and how to adapt. Like, this is almost a sign of a professional. If you haven’t adapted, that means you’re not a pro. Next!

In fact, in the best case, adaptation will be delayed and the employee will reach full capacity in 3–6 months (depending on the level of the position and the complexity of the position). With high-quality adaptation, this period is halved.

How much are you paying your new marketing director? $5,000 a month? And do you think your efforts are worth the $15,000 you'll save the company? It’s a pity for agencies to pay you three salaries for searching for candidates, but you easily lose them during onboarding?

Before the employee arrives

To ensure that adaptation to a new workplace is quick and successful, before the first day of work:

  1. The relevance of the job description is checked.
  2. An unofficial “patron” of the newcomer is appointed.
  3. His workplace is being prepared.
  4. The future team is notified of additions to the lineup.
  5. All necessary information files, passes, and administrative documents are generated.
  6. A call is made to the future employee to find out about his readiness to go to work.

How to relieve stress

  1. Ways to relieve excess stress are mainly related to visualization techniques. You can learn how this is done in my article about alpha visualization. In order to facilitate the process of settling into a new place, imagine, preferably before going to bed and on the eve of the working day, that you are in your office. Just try to imagine it in the smallest detail, right down to where the pen lies. Imagine that you have begun to perform your duties and are doing great. This exercise helps relieve unnecessary anxiety, so as not to worry, it is better to direct this energy in a pleasant direction so that adaptation is easier.
  2. If among your employees there is a person who is very unpleasant to you, or maybe even a boss to whom you have no right to express your opinion, and accumulating anger in yourself is harmful, the “Transformation” method will come to the rescue. What usually happens when something triggers strong negative feelings in us? That's right, we are trying to switch and forget about the unpleasant situation. But as luck would have it, it doesn’t work out; our psyche defends itself in this way. You should do the opposite. On the way home, or wherever it is convenient for you, imagine yourself in the place of this scoundrel. Reproduce his gait, manner of speaking, gestures, etc. Play with this image. This exercise is very resourceful, because, in addition to the fact that aggression is legalized, tension passes, and sometimes insight occurs; being in the place of the offender, we can understand what exactly he wanted to say and why he did it.

First work day

During this period, the program invites the team to do the following:

  1. Discuss with the newcomer his job responsibilities.
  2. Familiarize him in detail with the internal labor regulations.
  3. Talk about corporate traditions, rules, and private issues.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the structure of the organization.
  5. Conduct the necessary instructions: safety precautions, first aid, fire safety, etc.
  6. Provide a list of all possible communications and contacts that he may need.
  7. Presentation of dress code rules.
  8. Introducing the newcomer to immediate supervisors and colleagues.
  9. Tour of the place of work: show canteens, restrooms, rest areas, etc.

The rest of the adaptation period

At this time, procedures such as:

  1. Familiarization with reporting rules.
  2. Demonstration of requirements for work and its results.
  3. Familiarity with the administrative and economic system of the organization.
  4. Development of an individual retraining system for a new employee.
  5. Familiarization with the specifics of his work, the nuances that he needs to know.

Methods for successful adaptation

To ensure that a newcomer’s adaptation to the workplace takes place at an accelerated pace, many corporations use the following methods:

  1. Informal support - assigning a mentor or “patron” to a new employee.
  2. Carrying out events - in honor of the arrival of a new employee, a corporate party is organized, where in a relaxed atmosphere he is introduced to the norms, rules, etiquette in the organization.
  3. Corporate PR - a universal reference book is being developed containing answers to all questions of newcomers.
  4. Team training - an event held if an employee fails to join the team. It expresses the opinions of both sides, claims; trying to establish a dialogue.
  5. Briefing - the employee gets acquainted with the new requirements under the strict guidance of colleagues who answer all his questions.
  6. Personal account, personal mail - the newcomer receives letters of instruction to these addresses, helping him to gradually understand the surrounding environment.

Three approaches to adaptation

1. “Optical” - “you work, and we’ll look at you.” This approach cannot be called successful. Employers who choose it prefer to discuss the employee's salary and responsibilities after looking at him in action. There is practically no training; a beginner gets to work right away. If he doesn't fit, they hire someone else. For a new employee, this can result in frustration and a feeling of being unwanted.

2. “Army” - “hard in training, easy in battle.” The probationary period becomes a real test of survival - the newcomer is given complex and responsible tasks, but is not explained how to complete them. Under these conditions, only the most purposeful remain. The employee who was not suitable is parted with and a new one is hired. This method has negative consequences: after joining the staff, the new employee relaxes or begins to “revenge”. Newcomers in such organizations are treated with hostility or tried not to notice - it is unknown how long they will last. Thus, an attempt to hire the best personnel results in the long term in a bad attitude towards work and conflicts in the team.

3. “Affiliate” – “we will help.” This approach is the result of an effective personnel policy. The employer realizes that there are no ideal candidates, does not delay the search, but chooses the most suitable person for the position. Entry into work is as smooth as possible - the employee is trained, introduced to the organization, and assigned a mentor so that he can ask him his questions.

Vladimir Trofimenko , General Director of the Mankiewicz representative office in Russia and the CIS countries, Member of the Strategic Council for Investments in New Industries under the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade:

“Our project management system was implemented in a natural, organic way and was based on the desire to achieve the company’s goals. We do not have a department that could deal with personnel adaptation. Instead, a “start-up” system has been introduced. They are formed based on the psychophysiological characteristics of each participant and are based on continuous training of team leaders who monitor balance, clear planning and hierarchy within the team. With this approach, the effectiveness of an entire department is always greater than the sum of the abilities of its constituent employees. Each startup is recruited for a specific project, and its duration depends on the deadline for completing the task. As soon as one startup closes, a new one is immediately formed, with a different composition of employees. Thus, the new employee does not go through a long adaptation process, but immediately gets to work and gets to know his startup colleagues. When the task changes, the newcomer begins to delve into the specifics of the work of another startup and works with other colleagues. It is quite difficult to accept a structure where there are no instructions for staff, a percentage of sales and penalties. But the results speak for themselves: at Mankiewicz, our average employee tenure is 12 years, and there is no staff turnover that plagues Russian companies. Many stay with us after coming for an internship for the first time as students. This means that the system confirms its effectiveness.”

Promoting adaptation

Many successful corporations today pay great attention to the adaptation of a new employee to their team. This happens for a number of reasons:

  • the shorter the adaptation period, the greater the return on the employee’s work;
  • negative reviews from former employees who left due to a number of difficulties during the adaptation period are a serious blow to the company’s image;
  • mentoring helps increase the creativity of long-serving employees;
  • if an employee is fired and a replacement is found, the company will again spend money on recruitment and training;
  • a detailed and effective adaptation program is a plus in the fight against competitors;
  • the friendly attitude of the new team is one of the main reasons for unlocking the potential of a newcomer.

Adaptation to a new workplace is the most difficult and important thing in work life. At this stage, it is important for an employee to quickly and successfully get used to an unfamiliar team, in a new workplace, and the company should do everything possible to facilitate this, and not hinder it.

Understand the processes

To understand how to act and who to turn to for help, study the company's internal traditions and business etiquette. Colleagues or a mentor will help you better understand all the intricacies.

“If I go to another employee with a question for the first time, then the boss is with me. We walk in together, but he doesn’t introduce me, because visually everyone is already familiar. Then we discuss some work issue. And thus, in the presence of my manager, I become the person with whom I can continue to work. Next time I know who to go to and at what level to communicate,” says Andrey.

A newcomer who has not yet fully grasped the work tasks may face a biased attitude from more experienced colleagues, says Maya:

“Senior employees in Russian companies initially treated me with distrust and were not ready to assign complex tasks. In an international company, connection to complex tasks occurred already in the first week. I believe that increased attention from colleagues and control from superiors in the early stages helps to avoid such situations. If there is no support, the adaptation process slows down. Because of this, the speed of solving problems decreases.”

The quality of adaptation depends equally on the openness of both the newcomer and the company, says Sergey Rogulev:

“The more rigid and closed one of the sides is, the more difficult the first steps are. Even a very flexible person will gradually tire of having to adapt. Likewise, a liberal organization will at some point begin to demonstrate its limits if the newcomer is too persistent.”

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