First Days on the Job

Bob Weinstein over at Gantthead.com recently published one of those common sense articles about how to behave as a new hire that resonated with me. In it, he identified 4 things to not do and 8 things to do so that first impressions of you, the project manager, are positive. His advice is particularly important in the corporate world because while it takes only one negative event to ruin you reputation, it will require many, many positive events to re-establish it. So the best approach is to not ruin it in the first place.

I particularly like one of the items on his not to do list which is don't make drastic decisions. This actually applies to many new hires and not just project managers. Often, a new hire feels the need to make big and bold decisions to show support of company initiatives or make a strong impression. These decisions often turn out to be poorly thought out and result in a lot of pain down the road. At best, moving quickly without a proper understanding of the corporate culture or processes can ruffle too many feathers. And truth be told, any problem that you have today will probably still be a problem a few weeks from now, so take the time out to get to know and understand your new work environment.

One item not on the list is to avoid finger-pointing. When you're a new hire, the pile of things you don't know is going to be a lot bigger than the pile of things you do. Acknowledge to yourself and to others that you don't know something. Ask questions and don't make assumptions. In particular, don't point your finger at others saying that they didn't tell you or that the person previously doing your job is responsible for all the current problems. Simply accept responsibility for finding out the right answer and be prepared to make a few small missteps along the way.

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