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I wish someone would have told me when I was starting a new role at work

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

The famous phrase from Shakespeare’s monologue in “As You Like It” comes to mind, “All the world’s a stage. And all the men and women merely players…” Just like I would do back in English class where we dissected the characters from the Shakespearean play, I believe strategically it’s good to know who you are dealing with at work as soon as possible.

I remember starting new roles where I got flooded by HR forms to sign, online training to take, and my manager introducing me to the team while telling me all the issues in the department. Day one always came with a “To-Do List” from hell!

I found as I moved from one role to the next, I started feeling less overwhelmed. What I learned to do was to talk less, listen more, and ask powerful questions.

Here are powerful questions I’ve learned and used whenever entering an unfamiliar environment at work:

1. As your manager for the employee directory or organizational charts so that you can learn who fits where in the organization. Don’t get into a silo-way of thinking by stopping with the organizational chart your manager gives you. Get the other departments that you will be interacting with in your role as well.

2. Based on the organizational chart you can start introducing yourself to your co-workers. This is a crucial step for building a relationship. A two-part question I always loved asking was who they thought was a great leader in the organization and why they thought so. This gave me insight into the type of person they were, including their beliefs and values.

3. Whenever I found myself speaking to a disgruntled employee, I would ask them what utopia would look like for them. If they just wanted to complain without offering a glimpse of their ideal state, then I knew the person was in a rut. At this point, offering to help them by being solution-driven could work. Remember, problem-solvers do move up in corporations. They may take you up on it or not, either way, you extended them a life preserver. My phrase was always, “I’m here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask…”

4. When you learn more about the people that make the organization, you may find someone that you consider a great leader and want to learn from. Don’t be afraid to ask them for mentoring or if possible, ask if you can shadow them. Shadowing means observing them as they go about their daily routine. I remember asking a director if I could shadow them as she held her team meetings and she had her assistant send me invites for the next three months.

I do hope this has helped you when you start a new role at work. It makes the transition smoother, and you feel connected to the people you work with. Do you have a powerful question you've used in the past? Be inclusive and share it with us!

To learn more about influencing strategies, go to our two-part series featuring Persuasion & Reciprocation and Negotiations. You can also find tips for passive aggressive people.

Are you in need of support at your workplace? Contact me at

Let me know what you think with your comments…


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