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Getting Off to a Good Start January 13, 2014

Posted by Tim Rodgers in Management & leadership, Organizational dynamics, Process engineering, Project management.
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The transition to a new company can be disorienting. The HR folks always have a lot of forms to fill out, and it can take a while to figure out the e-mail and other IT systems. The work processes may seem familiar, but the terminology and acronyms may be very different. “It doesn’t work that way here,” is something you’re likely to hear a lot. Meanwhile, there are meetings to attend, active projects that need to be managed, and crises that require immediate attention.

There’s a honeymoon period when expectations are low, but that doesn’t last. At some point you’re expected to make a significant contribution and thereby justify the decision to hire you instead of someone else, or filling the position from within. This can be a time of paranoia and overcompensation. After all, for the first several months the company has little investment — financial or emotional — in your employment. It’s not that hard to let you go if it’s “not working out,” or if you’re “not fitting in.”

That may be true, it may not work out, but there are things you can do to get off to a good start. You need some early results that build confidence (including self-confidence) in your skills and methods.

1. The first thing to do is to quickly accomplish a task that you’ve been assigned. It almost doesn’t matter what the task is, the objective is to get others to see you as a person who meet their commitments, and gets things done on-time without being reminded. Of course it’s even better if the task has strategic priority, but as a people manager I’ve found that it’s easier to re-focus someone than it is to build a fire under them.

2. The second thing you need to do is to eliminate a problem. What you’re demonstrating here is the ability to take responsibility, get to the root of the issue, and deliver results. This is also your opportunity to apply the skills and experience that got you the job in the first place. This may be something that was assigned to you by your manager, or it may be something you’ve found on your own, but either way it’s important for people to recognize that you’ve made something better as a direct result of your actions.

3. While working on your problem, you need to build relationships within the organization. These are your sources of information, your partners in getting things done, and ultimately the people who will confirm your reputation and your value. They will also teach you how the organization really works and how to get things done.

4. Finally, you need to find out what success in this job looks like. You may think you know, based on the job description, but that has to be verified with your manager. Pay special attention to deliverables: it’s not just what needs to be done, but when those results are expected. Quantitative and objective measures are better. This is also a good time to schedule an early review to confirm that you’re on the right track.

You got the job, so you have some credibility. However, you can reduce your paranoia and focus on the job by establishing your reputation and delivering quick results. After that, start on your 30-60-90 Day Plans.

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