I was trekking in the Himalayas recently and one word stood out clear and loud:
Initially, it seemed like an overused word that sounds good in high altitudes. Science says that air gets thinner as we gain altitude and hence the body needs to work harder with limited supply of oxygen. I ran into lot of people who were on their way back from the summit and kept saying to drink lots of fluids (water) and acclimatize with every step (whatever that meant).
Every day, we would gain altitude of few hundred feet and rest for the night. This was supposed to help the body get used to lower oxygen levels, fewer oxygen percent points each day. Some bodies adapt faster and some slower. The slowest ones needed to be evacuated in a helicopter to lower altitudes as soon as possible. I saw a lot of helicopters making rounds and it usually wasn’t good news.
Every time one starts working on a new job, there is an in-built acclimatization process. I broadly classify new job acclimatizing into three categories: Technical, Cultural, and Political.
“Technical” is the skillset that’s needed to complete tasks effectively. These are the skills that got you inside the door. Demonstrate the skills; keep improving; share; grow.
“Cultural” is more about the “fit”. Every company’s culture is different and unique. People come to me and say “We used to do it like this at my previous company. It is so different here (I’m not liking this)”. While corporate culture is a broad term, ask yourself if your values and company’s values align well. Are your Values Aligned? Does the company culture giving you the flexibility and room for creativity that you yearn for? It is very hierarchical or it is more flat structured (and which one suits your working style better)? Would a Netflix culture fit you better or do you like a more traditional by-the-book culture?
“Political” is not necessary bad politics. While no company takes pride in admitting that internal politics prevail within the company, it does exist to varying extent in all companies. Understanding the company’s powerhouses and long term goals is key to ensure you’re getting acclimatized. Who are the key decision makers, their thought processes, getting buy-in from key people on various initiatives are some of the areas that needs attention during the acclimatization process.
Is there a preset duration for acclimatization? No, there isn’t. Some adapt faster and some slower. The slowest ones end up hating the job and eventually will leave (helicopter evacuation).
While every company expects a new hire to bring in new energy and ideas, it is important that the new hire acclimatizes well before proposing and implementing drastically new ideas. It is very important to understand the current processes and situation before proposing a radical idea that might have worked well at a different company in the past.