#AskColliers: Talent Edition

Just as thousands of other people did during the pandemic, I took a leap of faith by starting a new job amid very uncertain economic times. It was a bold move, for sure. I was building on my experience as a human capital leader, yet I was moving to a new employer in what for me was a new industry — commercial real estate.  

Was it the right time? Was I making the right move?  

In short … yes and YES! The idea of starting a new job left me feeling a little anxious, at first, but the move turned out to be invigorating. What’s more, the merits of my new role in commercial real estate services have made the initial stress worthwhile. The leap has been rewarding in so many ways. 

Now, looking back at my career journey over the past 18 months, or so, I recognize some valuable lessons learned about starting a new job in a new normal. The following strategies continue to help me, my team and the people we recruit into Colliers.  

Connect to converse 

As a career recruiter, my job has always included “get to know you” conversations. That’s doubly the case now, as I try to learn — often across various platforms — how a person’s personality, skills and ambitions might (or might not) align with our organization. It can be tricky at times. But the fact remains, we all seek human connections, and we can overcome the challenges of distance to do so.  

When starting a new job, you’ll find it particularly important to seek those connections. Notice how quickly and easily this can happen by sharing personal stories, exploring interests and having a laugh over a video call. That cat walking curiously across your keyboard? All part of the experience! The time will come when we can safely choose whether to have in-person coffee chats and “desk-side” discussions. Ultimately, whether in an office or onscreen, it’s all about conversing with colleagues in the new world of work. 

Learn the organization and its culture 

While you might be working remotely, it’s nice to know that you’re not actually alone. Joining a new team means you’re part of a group of colleagues. Don’t miss this opportunity to tap into their wealth of knowledge and experience. Inquire about how things work and who you should meet. Learn as much as you can about the organization and its culture. Coworkers are very happy to help new teammates embrace their roles. They’ll also help you make new contacts in your area and across the business. I find that people are very willing to share and happy to give insights like these. You just have to ask. 

You’ll find it well worth the investment to learn your new culture. Team building exercises are helpful, and no doubt such activities will expand in countless organizations over the coming months. Regardless, there’s no need to wait for scheduled activities. To start down the path to success, simply demonstrate interest in your work, your new colleagues and your new company culture. It’s better to establish connections early in your new job. That way, others will be able to see your value within the organization. 

Exercise empathy 

Living through a pandemic can induce anxiety, no question. Everyone has braved the perilous events of the last 18 months in their own personal way. And yet, it’s also been a shared human experience like never before.  

Empathy sits in the middle of that experience; a recognition that there’s a bigger picture in all our lives. The company culture we now share might include sitting for hours in cramped home workspaces, enduring spotty Wi-Fi, juggling family schedules, caring for elderly parents, holding meetings and noisy kids, coaxing the cat off your keyboard, and … just getting on with it.  

In these shared moments, we’re all becoming better acquainted with our colleagues (and customers). And by being empathetic, we move forward, together, more effectively and more humanely. Our sense of empathy belongs in any kind of workplace — be it virtual, physical or hybrid. 

Be flexible 

COVID-19 threw normal working hours out the window, and that transformation called on almost everyone to be more flexible in how, where and when they did their jobs.   

Now, organizations are increasingly more focused on output rather than location. In other words, flexibility is a major expectation in our daily jobs — whenever and wherever we may be working.  

Sometimes this will mean dialing into a meeting while en route to an appointment or catching up on emails while you’re at a kid’s sporting event. And as I often tell people, flexibility is as much a mindset as it is anything else. While you’ll enjoy some freedom, be sure to remember that it also comes with responsibility. 

Give yourself a break 

It’s a lot — learning a new role, meeting a new team and familiarizing yourself with your new organization can be exhausting. Good leaders will know that, as well. They’ll likely give you some guidance, time and space to dive into projects.  

For you, as the new hire, it’s critical to balance what might seem like nonstop meetings with blocked-off intervals you give to yourself — time to read, research and absorb the torrents of information coming at you. Switch gears to non-work activities when feasible. You can’t be flat-out focused on work all the time, trust me. Walk, run, bike, or find pretty much any way to move every day. I like early mornings, but everyone has their own activity schedule.  

The key is to give yourself a break in carving out time to recharge mentally and physically. You’ll be happier, more confident in your new role and more productive as a valued team member. 

Create your Day One Checklist  

Taking all this into account, here’s what I suggest for your Day One Checklist: 

  1. Do your research. Do your homework and arm yourself before day one with as much information as possible regarding your team, stakeholders and anything related to your role and organization. LinkedIn can help. Then, make sure to go through your first day taking ample notes. Those names, numbers and tips will be useful later. 
  2. Set up your workspace. Make it a dedicated space where you can (as much as possible) be free of distraction and put yourself in a state of concentration. Also, test your technology. Make sure your equipment is working, you are able to access email, messaging, shared folders, etc. — and keep the contact number for IT/tech support handy! 
  3. Dress for work. Even if you are working remotely, first impressions count and dressing as a professional will help put you in a work-focused mindset.   
  4. Pace yourself. We all joke about that famous workplace expression, “drinking from the firehose.” The truth is, nobody knows everything right away. So, try not to become frustrated by that flood of new material. Learning a new role and organization takes time. Consider this instead: It’s a journey, not a race. 

If you’re considering a bold move to a new employer, be sure to learn more about the advantages of a career in commercial real estate services. We have roles available in all our business lines and corporate teams across North America. See what you could BE at Colliers, here.  

About the Author:

Christian Odorizzi is the Director of Talent Acquisition, North America for Colliers and leads a team of recruiting professionals who support the company across the US and Canada. He is responsible for developing and implementing innovative talent acquisition solutions to accelerate the growth of Colliers business. An accomplished Human Capital leader, he brings extensive experience as a senior business partner advising on all aspects of effective planning, development, implementation and execution of talent strategies — from employer branding, sourcing, attraction to selection and onboarding.