Over my working life I have changed jobs (and indeed career) several times. Almost all the changes involved moving firms as well. In each case it was sink or swim, so here are some lessons I learned along the way about laying a good foundation.
1. Take time to settle in. This comes naturally to me, but it is best to know who is who, and how a new firm works before starting to take major action to change anything. That can avoid major problems, but does presuppose that there is no crisis that you need to attend to immediately.
During this time you need to understand the new job, and the culture and politics of the firm. I have even been quickly convinced that the firm was not for me in the long term, which was interesting.
2. Get to know all the staff, not just those at the top. Of course that involves face to face meetings, but on one occasion I emailed everyone asking for an interesting fact about themselves. I have over the years worked with someone who bred and showed Boxer dogs, a local councillor, a Norwegian speaker, an Arnhem paratrooper and someone whose injury caused a major change in the rules of Rugby.
3. Especially moving from a major commercial firm to a smaller firm, I learned not to say “at XYZ we used to….”. Firstly it makes the new firm defensive (suggesting they do not know what they are doing), so that any initiatives are less likely to succeed. Secondly there is no guarantee that system that works in a large firm is appropriate to a smaller firm. Thirdly the new firm may have come up with an innovative system which ought to be copied by other firms.
4. Make sure you receive a proper induction. That includes not only where the coffee and loos are, nor even how the IT systems work. It should also include the “people” support systems.
As with many people, I came up with some kind of system for making a success of a new job. However, it was only when I started to study the field that I realised how piecemeal this was, and how many gaps there were in the system.
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