A client recently emailed me to ask, “How do I find the confidence to speak up at work when I’m a new employee? I’ve gotten praise a couple of times when I talk and I’m asked to share more, but I feel like no one cares what I have to say and I’m worried that I sound dumb.”
This is a common experience with new employees, and I’ve gone through this myself every single job that I’ve gotten.
I am not really a natural extrovert, so it takes me time to warm up to my new team, figure out what I need to do to contribute, and feel like I’m adding some sort of value.
Listen and learn first
So what I have found helpful is to take the first three months or so and do a lot of listening and learning. You’re still trying to figure out your daily responsibilities, your goals, who to build relationships with, and the major projects going on.
That’s a lot to learn in the first three months in a job, so give yourself some time to just do a lot of listening and learning.
Speak up at work and start adding value
Once you have a pretty good feel for what’s going on at this new company, start speaking up and adding value when a question comes up about something you’re an expert about.
For example, if you’re a wizard at project management, give your expert opinion on what processes the team to implement to make managing projects more efficient.
When you’re still new and building relationships, lean into your expertise to command the attention of the room.
Be careful not to come off as a know it all. Self-awareness is one of the most important skills to have in professional settings. Know your audience and know when to back off if you’re coming in too hot.
Give it Time
Build the confidence to speak up at work by giving yourself some time.
Focus on finding things in common with your teammates and building relationships with them. As you work together more often, you’ll start to feel more confident in adding your expertise and opinion to the conversation.
Most of us want to know that we’re part of the group. That we’re part of the team, and that what we say matters. All of those things happen with time.
Get into the right mindset
If you can get into the mindset that you’re going to take time to listen, learn, contribute when you’re the expert, and focus on building relationships with everyone on the team, you’ll find that you’ll be able to start speaking up at work in no time.
As a new employee, you will feel like an outsider at first, but by the time you hit that three-month mark, you’ll fit right in.