Monday, September 26, 2011

 

Six best practices for your first week on the job

Whether it's the first week at a new job or a new consulting gig, there are several simple things you can do that will not only make a great early impression, but accelerate your path towards productivity and success.

Here are six:

1. Ask lots of questions

Know who you'll be meeting with, and think about questions you have in advance. Use this time to ensure you understand their expectations of your role, their own priorities and challenges, and how you can help each other succeed.

2. Take lots of notes
Don't do it in a notebook. Take notes on pieces of copy paper that are easier to sort, scan and refer back to later. These notes taken in your first week will include some of your most important discovery, records of your team's priorities, background on existing projects, etc. The more and better notes you take, the more likely you can answer your own questions as you use that input to accelerate your own work production (and integration with the team) moving forward.

3. Follow up with people afterward, and thank them for their time
Email is probably the best forum for this (hand-written thank you notes might be a bit much). Follow up not only with a thank you, but with links or attachments representing content you may have discussed or promised, work related or otherwise. Use this follow-up to ask additional questions or to get clarification as well.

4. Ask to speak with customers
You'll hear lots of opinions as you get to know the company and market, but the most important opinions will come from your new customers. If you can't get direct access, at least ask for primary research that may have been recently collected - interview transcripts, focus group summaries, etc.

5. Ask for competitive information
It's not enough to know who your competitors are, and how your sales team reacts to questions about them. Somewhere in your organization, hopefully, there's a product manager or planner who has deeper intelligence about what your customers have done, what they've built, and what they're up to next.

6. Write down all of your ideas, but don't share them all (yet)
It's likely that existing employees could get defensive if you start enthusiastically sharing every idea you have right away. Don't be the new guy with all the answers, which implicitly may assume the existing organization and team hasn't thought about it, tried it, etc. Instead, keep a running list of ideas. Organize them by function or channel or audience. When the time is right (and you better understand both existing players as well as what's been done), start bringing those ideas to the forefront. Focus on those that represent quick home runs for the organization and yourself, with direct impact on primary objectives.

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