Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Starting a new job, Building a new foundation – part 1 and starting a new career development best practices series

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on May 26, 2010

This is a first posting for a new series in building for success in a new job and as you go through the probationary period. It is also in many respects a direct continuation of my postings on job search, and with specific focus there on my job search Plan B series (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development and postings 56 through 72 for the Plan B series.)

Several of the skills and tools developed in a well planned and executed job search are also going to prove crucial to getting off to a solid start on the new job too, including but not limited to:

• Setting strategically meaningful goals and priorities.
• Networking and communicating, and tracking your activities in this so as to develop solid relationships.
• Managing your progress by tracking your performance.

I am going to start this series by focusing in on a lesson that I have learned as a consultant, and that I have seen play out when brought in-house as an employee as well. Very often, the hiring manager and their business hire because they see pressing need to bring in a new employee to address what are actually symptoms to an underlying problem. So I will add one more bullet point to the above list:

• Research and active ongoing pursuit of the learning curve as opportunity to excel.

It is almost certain that there is more to your job and its actual requirements than were spelled out in the formal job description you were interviewed in terms of, and even when that is supplemented by all the information you obtained from your pre-hire research and from meeting with the hiring manager and other interviewers. So it is important that you go into your new job not making too many automatic and unexamined assumptions, as it is the points where you take things for granted that you will risk making missteps. Start any new job with open eyes and an open mind, and with an awareness that not only do you have a lot to learn – you do not necessarily even know where the most crucial learning areas will be – yet.

To take that out of the abstract, I want to share some of the early learning curve issues I found out about only after starting at a specific job I once held. I was hired to rebuild an IT department that was not effectively supporting Sales or other services and departments. This business had an embryonic call center that did not seem to be connecting to Sales on the one side or Inventory on the other so sales staff never quite knew what was actually still in stock if it wasn’t immediately there in a showroom. I went in knowing there were going to be serious network and database problems but when I arrived and started working there I also found that their phone system was a cobbled together mess as well, unable to scale up and already scaled beyond its capacity to effectively function. So I was brought in facing tight budget constraints as a key consideration from the pre-hire interviews, and I found myself facing a crucial but unplanned for major expense that these budget considerations did not cover.

I did not have an office of my own for several weeks – I moved into that embryonic call center and worked from there as that was the pain point where all of the various high priority issues I had to work on seemed to come to a head. And I needed to find an early opportunity for success to build my credibility and to establish myself in the network and community that constituted this business. The key to both identifying the hidden mine fields and to finding ways to both address them and to build the support needed for that all came from active, open eyed research – and ongoing communication as to what I was finding and with both my supervisor and also with the internal stakeholders who were my in-house clients there.

I am going to be writing about networking and learning curves, and accelerating them to more rapidly get up to speed, team building and developing opportunities for early success and a lot of other issues in the coming postings to this series. The final point I will focus on here is actually one that has run through all of my postings in the Guide. That is the need for systematic, organized planning and follow through and for developing and following a strategic plan.

This applied when you were still looking for your new job. It applies now that you have landed that job and are setting out as a new employee. This applies to every stage and aspect to any well managed career. Ad hoc and one-off are approaches that will only rob you of opportunity and momentum and taking things for granted and simply going with the flow will leave you drifting. Drifting means loss of control and direction. So if you want to have a career that will take you to achieve your goals and your true potential, strategize and plan and be organized about both. This series focuses on that approach as it applies to your experience and opportunities as a new hire in your new job probationary period.

The next posting in this series will pick up from here and look into your first meetings as that new hire with your supervisor, and with your immediate colleagues. I will then post on the onboarding process and on how to gain more from that than simply filling out forms for HR.

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  1. […] • Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation – part 1 and starting a new career development best …. […]

  2. […] Part 1 – Starting a New Career Development Best Practices Series. • Part 2 – Initial Meetings with Supervisors and […]

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