When you are new to the Canadian workplace, there will be many things you will need to adjust to. You will have to get used to a general Canadian workplace culture, perhaps your specific company’s corporate culture, as well as your boss’s management style. There may be written and verbalized expectations for your performance, but there will be unwritten (or unspoken) ones too. And a big part of what confounds newcomers is figuring out what these are.
If you are starting on a new job in a new workplace and you’re feeling lost or unsure about your goals (or performance), here are a few suggestions to get you right on track:
Talk to your boss or supervisor
Usually, the manager or supervisor initiates this when you are a new employee. Your job description and role are explained to you before you start work. If this was not done, you can always ask your superior for a short meeting to discuss expectations, concerns or questions, and even feedback about your performance. Never be afraid to ask for a consultation with your boss. Most workplaces have an “open-door” policy, meaning that employees can discuss concerns, ask questions or provide suggestions any time with management. This will also show that you have initiative and that you’re serious about your work.
If you feel that you will not be able to express your concerns very well, you can prepare some talking points prior to your consultation. You can write them down so that you have a guide and stay on track. During the meeting, make sure that you listen actively. It will be helpful to take down notes too. Read How to have a productive meeting with your boss by Nicole Long at the Houston Chronicle site for other tips.
The following video from SFU Co-operative Education about Expectations in the Canadian Workplace can also help you decode some of the usual workplace values and behaviors expected in your new world of work:
Seek workplace supports
Depending on the type of workplace and size of the work force, companies may hold general orientation sessions to brief employees about the corporate mission, vision, structure, even the history. Make sure that you attend this orientation if they have it. It will help you understand the values that your company upholds and prioritizes on. It will also give you an idea of the type of culture they cultivate. Most importantly, orientations should make you feel welcome and part of the team.
Read the company handbook
Especially in large companies, every employee is expected to read the company handbook. This is a written document that explains the rules and regulations of the company, as well as employee rights and privileges. It may hold the answers to your general questions and is a good reference to have to resolve some concerns you may have in the future.
Some companies have a buddy program in which a new employee may be paired up with a colleague to guide them as they learn the ropes of the job. Having someone you can readily ask and consult about work is a great resource to have. It is also a good opportunity to build rapport with a colleague who is part of your team.
Every now and then workplaces offer workshops or trainings related to building certain job skills or are intended to supplement employees’ knowledge about workplace issues. Take advantage of these opportunities, especially when the topic is directly related to your area of expertise. Not only will the additional knowledge help you perform better, it will boost your resume as well.
Talk to your co-workers
As long as you are not disturbing them too much in their work, it is okay to ask your co-workers if something is not clear to you or if you need their assistance for something job-related. This is a normal part of interaction in the workplace and will not make you look incompetent. Be willing to return the favor when they ask for your help.
Outside workshops and seminars
There are many agencies in Manitoba that offer seminars related to job skills and workplace culture. For instance, Workplace Education Manitoba (WEM) has various programs on building your essential skills for the Canadian workplace. Aside from WEM, many immigrant serving organizations provide free skills development and language trainings, as well as employment counseling support. These organizations are listed on this page (look for the heading Employment). You can visit their respective websites to learn about their programs and how to register for them.
Find a mentor
A mentor is someone who is usually more senior and more experienced than you who can provide good advice and guidance about matters regarding your career. If you are fortunate to have a mentorship program in your workplace, it would be a good idea to find out more about it and explore how it could help you map out your career development plan.
There are many mentorship programs in the province for different professions and various levels of experience. Read the article Feeling lost in your career? Find a mentor! to know more about mentorship and available programs in Manitoba.
Supports to help you in the workplace
Read the following questions and select the best answer(s) for each one. Please note that some questions have more than one answer.
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- Question 1 of 8
Select the best definition of the term “corporate culture”.CorrectIncorrect
- Question 2 of 8
According to the article, which element of workplace culture can be confusing to newcomers?CorrectIncorrect
- Question 3 of 8
Select the best definition for the word “initiative”.CorrectIncorrect
- Question 4 of 8
A workplace with an “open door” policy means thatCorrectIncorrect
- Question 5 of 8
What does it mean to “learn the ropes”?CorrectIncorrect
- Question 6 of 8
According to the article, what are the benefit(s) of attending workshops or trainings?CorrectIncorrect
- Question 7 of 8
Another word for “rapport” is:CorrectIncorrect
- Question 8 of 8
A mentor is someone who:CorrectIncorrect
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