Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year (Job) Resolutions

I'm starting a new job on a new team today, so it's a good time to summarize for myself the advice I give to others when they start a new position.
  1. Let the others impress you. The problem when we join a new team is that we are eager to "show our stuff" and earn the respect of our new peers and bosses. But they are eager to do the same with us. A new guy is a disruption of the status quo and so you must let the other members of the team re-establish their status with you. Relax, you got the job--the starting assumption for everybody else is that you are coming in smart and successful from your previous gig.
  2. Cater to the group's self-acknowledged areas of weakness. Try to assess how the team sees you as adding value. We have a tendency to want to recreate past successes, but first understand the new problems and how the team sees you as part of the solution. For example, if a team thinks they have lousy templates and that's what they want you to work on, but you think their standards and style guides suck, work on the templates! Don't try to force yourself as an answer to a problem they don't think they have.
  3. Build something. You need to learn a lot, and there is a tendency to read, read, read. That just leads to forget, forget, forget. Build something that forces you to engage with the content you are trying to learn and that will give you a residual artifact. For example, don't just browse the portal you will be redesigning, build a site map of it. Build a Wiki that captures links to the resources you are discovering, construct a user matrix. Whatever.
  4. Don't squander your ignorance. You are about to see a lot of things for the first time that you will never see for the first time ever again. Stay focused on what that experience is like for the user. (Keep you mouth shut, however, and pay attention to points 1-3.)
Happy New Year, everybody!

4 comments:

Larry said...

This is a great list, Mike -- one born of wisdom and, I'm sure, lots of experience. With this kind of approach you'll be great in the new job. I certainly wish you every success.

I'd modify #3 a little bit, because I like to jump in and start building when maybe I should have read a little bit first. So I think I'd say Build something, but not hastily. Find the balance between spending the whole day reading and jumping in feet first.

Margaret said...

Great tips for a fresh start at a new position, or even an old one. Your years of experience tell you to relax and hold yourself back from the newby syndrome of "Getting all wound up and trying too hard to make an impact", but we all still have that urge in a new position.

Happy New Year, Mike.

Tom Johnson said...

Awesome guitar music. Can you add dueling banjos sometime?

Tom

Michael Hughes said...

Thanks, Tom. I'm not that good of a multi-tasker. Those snippets are me playing my Dobro.