Laying your happiness foundation when starting a new role

Transitioning to a new role can be a daunting and important stage in your community management career. Here, CEFP2019 Fellow, Ann Meyer, shares 5 tips to help you thrive – and enjoy – your next career move.

I recently transitioned to a new role and was a little surprised by a question during my interview. They asked me “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I know I was expected to answer with an idea of a concrete plan or a solid, tangible vision for my future but what popped out of my mouth instead was, “I want to be happy.” But we all know that more often than not, happiness isn’t something that just happens – you have to work for it.

Wanting to be happy at work isn’t an idle or frivolous desire. Research has shown that happy people are successful people (Lyubomirsky et al 2005). With a new role, you have an opportunity to set yourself up to be happy from the very beginning. By laying a solid foundation when you start, you are setting yourself up not only for a smooth transition but also for future success. Here are five ways I’ve tried to do just that for myself every time I change jobs.

1. Research your new colleagues

You will be meeting many new people on your first day and unless you are naturally gifted, you’ll only remember a few names and a few job titles. You can substantially increase this number by doing some advance research. If you’re lucky, the new team you’ll be joining has bios with pictures of all the team members on a publicly available website. Many of your new colleagues may also have LinkedIn profiles. Familiarizing yourself with some names, faces, and job descriptions beforehand could significantly decrease your first day anxiety and increase your confidence. You might also realize that you already know a few of your new colleagues!

2. Set up meetings with your new colleagues

Depending on the size of the team you are joining, you should schedule one-on-one introductory meetings with all your new teammates and individuals with whom you will be interacting; or, if the team is very large, schedule meetings with key teammates.

These meetings should happen within the first couple of weeks and can be as simple as grabbing coffee together. Informal conversations like these will help you determine where you fit in, help you learn about the company culture, and help you get a good understanding of the personalities you’ll be working with on a regular basis.

Coffee meetings also have the added benefit of helping more people recognize and get to know you, and help you build credibility with your new teammates. You may also learn about pitfalls to avoid with your new boss or in the workplace in general

3. Set up regular meetings with your new boss or supervisor

In the first few weeks, you will likely have many meetings with your new boss to get you settled and familiar with tasks that will be assigned to you. Scheduling regular, continued meetings with your boss will give you an opportunity to share your ideas and to address challenges before they become problems. As a bonus, your boss will be more aware of your successes when it comes to your annual performance review.

4. Find ways to shine

You bring a skillset that is uniquely yours with you to your new role. You also have a wealth of talents of which your new boss and team won’t be aware, and you come with fresh ideas and perspectives. Don’t be afraid to speak up during meetings and send follow up emails to continue the discussion. Introduce new tools and processes to fill gaps or to reduce and simplify workloads. Volunteer for tasks, working groups, and committees.   

5. Find a champion

It’s much easier as a new hire to be put on the cool, interesting projects if you have someone more established vouching for you – especially if the person assigning tasks isn’t your boss or isn’t someone you interact with regularly. A champion lends you their recognition and endorses you and your skills. Finding a champion can be difficult but the one-on-one meetings you had with your new teammates is an excellent place to start. 

Building a strong happiness foundation from the start will help you secure early wins in your new role, increasing your confidence and job satisfaction, and, ultimately, leading to more happiness.     

About the Author

Ann Meyer is an advisor with Ontario Genomics, one of the regional centers that works with Genome Canada to fund genomics research in Canada. She helps build effective relationships by connecting, enabling and working with leading academics and diverse partner organizations to advance collaborative initiatives aimed at bringing new genomic-derived solutions to Ontario’s key sectors.


You can find more CSCCE-curated resources on hiring / becoming a scientific community manager here.