Starting your next job successfully

Congratulations! You have escaped/been fired/resigned from your last job.

You need to gather the remnants of your sanity and prepare for a successful entrance to the next phase of your life. If done correctly, you may even enjoy yourself.

If you are planning to join a new company and are just going to try harder this time, I have news for you. This is not a winning strategy.

Joining a new company and repeating the actions that you used at the last company will turn out badly most of the time. You need a mental makeover.

You need to fully comprehend how your entry into a new job affects the rest of your life at that company. Most people who fail in a job do so because of the actions they take, or fail to take, in the first weeks and months of their new employment.

You may feel that your last company was organized like this:

It may well have been, but like it or not, you helped contribute to that as long as you were there. Now that you are making a transition to a new company, leave the past behind.

Prepare for your new job by asking questions, both during the interview process and during your first months on the job. Ask about the things that matter to you and listen very carefully to the answers. This must include specific questions about what they want you to do. If you get assurances but nothing in writing, this new company is organized much like your old one and you are in for a bad time. Bail out before you lose your job hunting momentum.

Once you find a company that feels right and you move into your new workspace, take the time to find out what they really want you to do, as opposed to what they mentioned in the interview. Find out who you report to and how the chain of command works. Don’t bypass the chain of command unless you fully understand the consequences.

Find out who you will be working with and what your relationships are. This may take a lot more care than you expect. You may have to negotiate a working relationship over several weeks or months. Don’t rush it or assume anything. Project relationships are quite fluid. Try not to be too authoritative or conciliatory until you know where the actual power resides. Find out who you can go to for information and maintain those communication lines by finding what they need in return.

Take your time making friends. There are those who enlist newcomers as unwitting allies in company power struggles. Find out who can be relied upon and who can’t.

When you have a clear idea of what is needed from you, produce it and communicate appropriately to those who need updates on your progress.

Find out whose toes you are stepping on by assuming this position. You should have asked why they didn’t fill this position from within during the interview, but you had better find out now or you may find yourself under attack from unexpected quarters.

Align yourself with those who are working to accomplish worthwhile things and keep your own counsel. Ask questions, but be alert to subjects or people that are off-limits to discussion. If you hear people say, “Don’t go there!” when you ask valid questions, you have discovered a serious problem with this employer and you will eventually bail out or be forced out.

Work your way out of the initial state of being a newcomer by developing communication lines with people you trust and delivering what is needed on schedule. Once you start to become effective, you are going to hit a new series of challenges.

If you are in a newly created position, somebody has been covering the responsibilities that you are now picking up. You are going to find people challenging your right to make decisions, even though your job description entitles you to do so.

In actual fact, you have to earn the right to make decisions and I will cover this and other challenges in a future post.

Enjoy your adventure!

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