1.24.2006

TIP: So you got the job. Now what?

via CIO - ...There are three ways to start: You can spend time figuring out what you just got yourself into, or go right in and "fix" everything or continue "business as usual." The right answer is a combination of all three, naturally; it all depends on what you just inherited.

Experience should tell you that if there is no current crisis (if only we could be so lucky) then the right way to get your feet wet is to become an observer and a student of your new environment... This is a time for meetings to understand what is good and bad about your new organization and formulate a go-forward strategy. Spend time with your direct repots and their direct reports, find out what they do, what their skills are, what they think is right and wrong. Since you are the new person, they may not trust you yet, so keep the groups small and make it personal. And don't have managers in with their reports!

Once you have a sense of what your team is feeling, then it's time to talk with your clients. Look first for the business unit leaders and get recommendations from them as to which of their people you should talk with. One school of thought is to do your internal client's business for a day. There is no better way to learn about issues than to experience them first hand. Lastly, talk to you new boss. Now that you have some data points you can have a better, more detailed discussion on what your focus should be...

you ask six questions to everyone you meet. The one that is most relevant is, "If you were me, what would you focus attention on?" The questions you ask should provide you with a starting point for prioritizing the things you need to do and the things you want to do...

  • "What do you want to keep?"
  • "What do you want to change?"
  • "What do you want me to do?"
  • "What are you afraid I'll do?"
  • "What else do you want to ask me?"

But, what if there are problems when you enter the organization - problems that can't wait months to be resolved? Remember, they looked long and hard for you because you had something they needed in the organization. This is when you get your hands dirty and become an instant part of the fix. In other words, go deep toward understanding the issues. Attend meetings you wouldn't normally attend and work closely with the hands-on folks. Use the phrase, "At my last company we did it this way" sparingly because it gets old really fast. This is also the time to use all of your expertise and experience to analyze the situation and make decisions. Remember some of your best decisions are made before you have all the facts because you instinctively know what needs to be done. Take copious notes so that when the crisis is over you know how to prevent if from happening again.

This is also a great time to see what process and/or procedures are in place and how they affect the outcome...

So, that leaves us with "business as usual." There are many things that could be said about this but then I suspect that your predecessor would agree that it really isn't the right way to go. If the people that hired you wanted business as usual, would they have hired you? Understand that you are bringing ideas and methodologies that you have picked up over time. Now is the time to leverage them and create synergistic solutions. Everything that gets fixed isn't necessarily a problem, however: Creating efficiencies or cost effective solutions for things that aren't broken can contribute as much as fixing broken processes.

Your first hundred days will tell your new company what you are all about. It is also the best time to introduce change because that's what you were hired for.

Category: C++ Quant > Land the Job You Want

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