Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 20 – the jobs and careers context 19

This is my 20th installment to a series on negotiating in a professional context, starting with the more individually focused side of that as found in jobs and careers, and going from there to consider the workplace and its business-supportive negotiations (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 484 and following for Parts 1-19.)

I began discussing the new hire probationary period in this series in Part 14, and that transition period’s day two and following in Part 18. And as part of that, I offered a brief list of to-address topics points that any new hire should at least be aware of as they go through this period of initial employment:

1. Becoming a valued and appreciated member of a team, and fitting in.
2. Business policy and business politics, and navigating them.
3. Dealing with, and communicating and negotiating through the unexpected.
4. Networking for success in the workplace.
5. Negotiating access to the resources that you need, as an ongoing workplace and career requirement.
6. Plan B planning and execution, and being prepared for the unexpected (and the importance of finding and addressing solutions to problems, and not assigning blame for them.)

I began addressing these issues in Part 18 (for Point 1) and Part 19 (for Point 2), and will at least primarily focus on the above stated Point 3 here. That noted, the above listed points are all closely enough related and interrelated so that any real effort to address any of them in detail would of necessity at least touch on others offered there too.

And with that noted, the key words in Point 3 that set it apart from Points 1 and 2, are “the unexpected.” I have primarily discussed Points 1 and 2 in this series, at least up to here, in terms of more standard and expected work issues and challenges: simply carrying out expected duties and working toward completing planned out goals and stretch goals in the face of routine resource limitations and other predictable and expected workplace issues. My goal here is to add workplace and job performance complexities and challenges to that baseline.

I will return to the issues of the more genuinely unexpected and unpredictable when addressing Point 6 of the above list, and set the stage for that here, as well for discussing Points 4 and 5, by focusing on workplace and business communications.

I have been explicitly discussing the issues of communications in a business in a concurrently running series: Building a Business for Resilience, as can be found at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 and Page 5 continuations (as directory entries 542 and loosely following.) And my ongoing focus of attention there, and certainly since that series’ Part 28, has been on finding an effective and meaningful balance between information security and confidentiality and meeting that set of needs, while simultaneously allowing for and supporting more open communications and particularly where that becomes essential in addressing the disruptively novel and unexpected.

I leave that more general line of discussion and its elaboration to that series, and focus here on the new hire as they seek to find their way around their new workplace. I have focused in Building a Business for Resilience, on explicitly developing capabilities and business-wide, for more quickly identifying, understanding and addressing emergent challenges and opportunities, and for enabling a business’ innovative potential. My focus here is on the new hire, as they seek to identify others who work with them, for their skills and experience sets. And my focus here is on efforts that they would make to at least initially connect with these colleagues. That means their being more proactively prepared for actually carrying through on their own day to day routines and as an involved member of a team they have now joined. But this also means their being more proactively prepared to address what at least for them, would be more unexpected situations: positive or negative in nature. Note: that does not necessarily mean that no one there at this business would see those at least seemingly emergent situations as novel and unexpected; it just means that no one already working there has told at least this new hire of the possibilities that they might face where some event or a possibility of one might arise, that would require special handling for an effective resolution.

Learning curves take time, as do training periods that would help fulfill them. In this, meeting learning curve requirements comes in part and even in large part from outside of new hires themselves, coming from the system they have just joined and its already-actively involved participants. That aspect of their on the job, new hire training generally calls for at least some active participation from their direct supervisors and others there, including people from Human Resources that offer general new hire-oriented talks and presentations at the very least. And this can and often does involve help in getting up to speed from more experienced members of a new hire’s immediate work team too. But even when a business has a relatively comprehensive formally framed onboarding process for that, it is still going to be up to the new hire themselves, to fill in what for them would still be remaining gaps in their in-house training.

So I write here of proactively reaching out and communicating, and I write here of being prepared for more effectively and smoothly carrying through on workplace routines, and in ways that coordinate smoothly with what others there are doing. And I write here of reaching out and communicating more widely so as to have a basic tool set in place for handling the more truly novel and unexpected too.

I am going to turn in my next series installment, to explicitly consider networking in this. My focus here in this posting has been on communications, and on the What and How of that: not on the With-Whom. So I conclude this posting, in preparation for the next to come in this series, with two crucially important points. The first can be summarized in two quick bullet points.

• As a new hire who is primarily seeking to proactively pave a way forward for their success, this initial stage networking and communicating is all about introductions, and making sure that an effectively wide range of colleagues are on your radar as at least somewhat known quantities, and that you are on theirs too and hopefully with a favorable first impression made.
• So these initial conversations are of necessity going to be more general in nature, and are not intended to bring up specific here-and-now workplace issues, and certainly not just to ask for assistance with them – usually. These are and should be “getting to know you” chats, and “this is where I work and this in general terms is what I do here” chats.

The second point that I would raise here is both more complex and more important, so I begin setting up for it with an already discussed foundational point:

• The hiring manager, now direct supervisor who brought you into this business as a new hire there, did so to take a specific job description with all of its expected work and task completion responsibilities off of their desk.
• True, most supervisors would expect and want to be brought into the conversation and early on if an unexpected problem or a new emerging opportunity were to arise. But even then, they would at least expect that their new hire would be able to bring them up to speed on this and very quickly and with at least an effectively reasonable first take on what is happening that they could report in. And if this new hire – you, can also offer at least a reasonable first take on how this might be addressed too, that would fit into the driving rationale behind the first of this set of bullet points and validate your having been a good choice for this job.
• To put this in perspective, I have worked with and observed supervisors who do not for whatever reason want to become involved, and sometimes even in crises. I find myself thinking back to an in-house employee position at a nonprofit that I held once, where a crisis arose that was literally costing that business over one hundred thousand dollars an hour and entirely avoidably so. A major live, on-air fundraiser was failing and completely so, because the online donation side to it as supported by a third party provider was down and off-line. And my supervisor refused to leave a group meeting with his own supervisor to help address that problem, as he sought to curry her favor. So I had to improvise to resolve this mess when it was this manager who had the only direct working relationship with this service provider, and by specific intention on his part. Given this and similar counter-examples to the first two points here that I could cite: there are exceptions to the above, and communicating with your supervisor and others who work with them, can help you be more prepared for the unexpected – and even when that comes in this type of form.

I write here of communications as bridge building and alliance building, and as an exercise that can productively lead to that happening. And with this noted, I will turn in my next installment to this series, to the above stated Point 4 of the to-address list that I am working my way through here. And I will explicitly consider the “With-Whom” side of this general topics area there, as well as networking etiquette and related issues. I will also more explicitly strategically consider Why issues there.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material. And for relevant background and a systematic discussion of the new hire probationary period as a whole, as organized from day one on, see : Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation, as can also be found at Page 1 of that Guide (as its postings 73-88.)

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