Monday, September 24, 2007

Sept 24, 2007 – Starting Over

I survived the first week at my new job. Starting over can be exciting and a bit scary. Having survived nearly 15 years in the consulting industry, I am no stranger to rebooting my work experience. Actually, I even wrote an article for Computerworld about the topic (The New Guy's Guide to Building Trust).

Upon reviewing the list of 10 steps in the article, I think I’m off to a good start. I issued meeting minutes, started identifying preconceptions and even created an informative status report. With this new adventure I have discovered a couple of other steps to add to the newbie list.

Don’t Burn Bridges. It truly is a small world. I have run into several people from previous workplaces that have either worked with me or with someone who knows me. Fortunately I can work with almost anyone and know enough not to make enemies. Had I been a jerk to any of these people I would be paying for it now.

Don’t Jump the Gun. Like a runner, you need to be careful to not leave the starting block before the pistol is fired. Within the first day or so at a new client I began introducing myself to the extended team as the project manager. It soon became apparent that there were already two project managers on the effort and neither one of them knew I was coming. That was just a little awkward. Check with your management to make sure the announcement has been made before you step on anyone’s toes.

Know the Currents. On a camping trip to Martha’s Vineyard as a teenager we visited a beach with a riptide, a dangerous current that runs parallel to the beach. As you swim, you may think you are heading straight out from shore when in reality the current has pushed you 100 yards away. The best example of this in business came from an advertisement friend of mine.

While working a deal at a new client, one of the female executives asked if his company had done the ads for product X. In fact they had actually won awards for those ads and proudly said so. The executive said, “Those are the most sexist, degrading ads I have seen and there is no way we will be doing business with the company that created them.”

Deliver Value Quickly. On your first day start thinking about your status report. What are you going to put on it at the end of the week? Whoever hired you took a chance. They will be looking to see how soon you can be productive and contributing to the team. Identify some things you can accomplish during the first week to show an early personal Return on Investment. One of the new PMO objectives is to create project development standards and templates. I was able to report deliver of several draft templates on Friday’s status.

It may seem daunting to start over again, but soon those feelings will disappear as you pick up your new challenge.

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