Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Starting a new job, Building a new foundation – part 6 and collaborating for success

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on June 14, 2010

This is my sixth installment in this series on successfully going through a new job probationary period and building a foundation for ongoing success at that job. I have discussed onboarding and the first day, and networking and establishing yourself with early successes (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 73 through 77). In a fundamental sense, my topic for this posting is one I have already covered – diffused throughout these preceding postings and others. But it is important to cover this with clarity and focus, as today’s topic deals with the core difference as to why some people get recognition and promotions while others do not – the difference hinges largely on how you do or do not collaborate to create and share value and both within your team and for all of your clients. That definitely includes your internal clients here – people within your organization and perhaps in very different parts of the table of organization who rely on what you do in order to be able to effectively do what they do.

Effective collaboration in this relies on three key steps: information gathering, alignment and communication:

• You need to look over the walls of your cubicle and out through the doors to your office, and perhaps more importantly over and through the silo walls that you work within, to really understand the business and from the perspective of the range of people you work with and in support of. Too many people simply settle into a new job and a new routine as quickly as possible as they seek to set their job search and their time searching behind them. Keep looking with fresh eyes. Keep looking and listening with that problem solving consultant’s perspective. Look for ways your contribution can significantly make a positive difference, and both for your team and for the business as a whole. This is all about information gathering and in turning the information you gather into actionable knowledge.
• Keep your assigned tasks and priorities firmly in mind as you do this and look for opportunities within the scope you are responsible for, for creating and sharing value. Once again this is about avoiding getting into that rut of simply doing A and B and C, and soon coming to do them as if on autopilot. Alignment is about identifying and following through on the priorities that would really matter where that is always a dynamic, changing job. Alignment is about catching those emerging problems and opportunities so you are not just doing your minimum required, but rather accomplishing significant goals. And looking at this from the other extreme, effective alignment means not diffusing your efforts.
And this all depends on effective communication – with your supervisor and your team, and with all of those clients. That means sharing information yourself but it means listening and taking in information from others too, and with an eye towards updating your understanding of your work context and of your goals and priorities. Things change and what was true yesterday may no longer be valid or relevant today or tomorrow. So communication here is not about static, unchanging messages, but rather about keeping up to date and helping to keep others up to date too.

Approach this topic as a matter of finding better ways for taking care of your core responsibilities and going beyond them to accomplish your stretch goals, and as a valued and known colleague.

So far I have approached this process of starting out on a new job as if you could only have a single supervisor in a linear branch of a table of organization. The next posting in this series I am going to address a fairly common situation where a new employee finds themselves reporting to more than one supervisor, with matrix management and dotted line supervision. The posting after that will look into mentors and mentoring. I am going to post on both, first from the perspective of the new hire and employee, and also from the perspective of HR and the hiring business.

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  1. […] probationary period and building a foundation for ongoing success at that job, and at the end of Part 6 and Collaborating for Success I said that my next two postings in this series would cover (in this […]

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