The Stranger Within Work Team: Adaptation

2017-05-23

More and more young people who are capable of quickly adapting to new conditions are entering the labor market. But the labor market itself becomes so diverse that candidates need a lot of energy to find their own team. So the problem of adaptation becomes all the acuter.

Psychologists distinguish three stages of adaptation of a new employee:

Adaptation 1.0

The first phase - the period of acute adaptation - lasts 1-2 months and, as a rule, coincides with the probationary period. While the applicant strives to make the maximum impression, his or her working capacity is reduced by 50-60% precisely because of the stress associated with adaptation.

“Typically, 20 to 30-year-old employees enter the company "on a white horse, in the midst of the battle". They start to criticize everything right away to show their exceptional skills, knowledge, and character”, observes Nancy Richards, a partner at MEB Coaching & Consulting.

At the age of 30 to 40 people are more cautious in their primary communication, they listen more to the opinion of leaders and they realize their role and horizons of the career in the new organization.

From 40 years until the age of retirement, employees are confident in their expertise and can make the mistake of crushing everybody with their authority even before they earn any authority in the eyes of the colleagues.

Adaptation 2.0

The acute phase of adaptation is replaced by the "phase of optimism". This happens 3-4 months after employment. The former applicant starts considering him/herself to be one of the team and is used to job duties. However, not always the team gets used to the new employee by this time enough to forgive misunderstanding in the intricacies of corporate relationships or professional mistakes.

How quickly the team will accept the beginner is unpredictable. Both psychologists and career advisers do not have a common opinion on this matter. In the opinion of Olivia Herrera, a business psychologist, the time required for getting used to a newcomer might be from two weeks to a month. Nancy Richards is convinced that the time is much longer – about a year and a half. "In bureaucratic systems, it can be up to six months but in a small business, a candidate can be integrated into the company in a week," –replies Ethan Hill, career coach consultant and head of Castony Career Development.

Adaptation 3.0

Six months after getting the job, the employee enters the "period of secondary adaptation". Some psychologists believe that this is not even an adaptation, but a consolidation within the team. Rules and internal etiquette have already been learned, the workflow is regular, the employee mentally associates him/herself with the rest of the team. By this time a person successfully completes professional (the skills and specificity of the work are learned), psycho-physiological (learns the rhythm of work, safety techniques), socio-psychological (in one way or the other he or she joins the team) and organizational adaptation (learns to correlate his or her work and team’s work).

The size of the company matters

Being a newcomer to a PR company and a factory are two different things. Adapting in factory teams is more difficult because they formed their corporate culture for years. In addition, in such teams, a certain patriarchal order or even "dynasty" can form. 

"There are industries or functional groups with a high communication index, where communication is easier and closer; they are media, commerce, marketing, and PR. In production and heavy equipment industry, adaptation takes more time," - adds Ethan Hill.

"Adaptation in a team is easier if the company is young enough and flexible, with clear rules and a single conceptual apparatus. As a rule, such teams are formed in banking, consulting, and development," – believes Nancy Richards.

A special place is occupied by any creative collectives. "It's like the corps de ballet: every dancer feels more talented than a prima ballerina. Therefore, entering into such groups is most difficult. Every new person here is, first of all, a future star and accepted with hostility, "says Nancy Richards.

The easiest to adapt in are IT-teams. Employees in them "speak the same language" and immediately form a separate caste.