OK I know you've been hired because you have the skills we desperately need.
I realise you really know your stuff and are a focussed can-do problem solver. And so on and so on...
But do you know the best way to make sure your brilliant ideas never get off the ground? Do you know the best way to make sure you are completely ignored?
Do one of the following:
- Act like no one has been trying to fix the problems before your arrival. They have. There are probably very good reasons why they haven't been fixed.
- Spend two days "understanding the business" then start firing off ideas to everyone on your contact list.
- Speak to one disgruntled employee and then think you understand what the "issues" are.
- Mock past decisions. Last year's excellent decision is this year's giant mistake but people took that decision given the knowledge they had at the time. They weren't deliberately being stupid.
- Fail to understand the unwritten structures. All organizations have ways of making decisions that are less than transparent. If you are new on the job, you won't know what they are. This means your ideas won't get approved.
- Be frustrated and compare your new organization with your previous one. If it was so great, why did you leave?
Reading back this list I keep thinking surely no one does this. But I've seen them all. So what to do instead?
- Ask questions. My favourite boss told me that he never has an opinion until 3 months into a new job and doesn't express it until after 6 months. Ask questions and keep pushing for answers. You will start then to see patterns.
- Watch the high fliers. Identify the stars and watch how they get things done. Better yet, ask them. They will be clear how the unwritten structures work.
- Understand corporate history. Get copies of old annual reports and strategic plans and read carefully. Map the key events onto a chart. What story does it tell?
- Be excited. It is really noticeable how a little excitement is infectious. Never be negative. You're new.
- Ask how you can add value. Rather than explaining your ideas, ask how others think you could help them achieve their targets. Be a solution to their problems.
This is what I suggest new hires do. What do you think is the worst thing a new hire can do?