5 Questions to Ask When Starting a New Job

Professional transitions | Employment | Success in the workplace  |Career advice

by Michael D. Watkins | April 09, 2019

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The actions you take during your first few months in a new job have a major impact on your success or failure. Build positive momentum early on and it will propel you through your tenure. Make some early missteps and you could face an uphill battle for the rest of your time in the job.

The biggest challenge leaders face during these periods is staying focused on the right things. You are drinking from the proverbial fire hose while trying to get settled and figure out how to start to have an impact. It’s easy to take on too much or to waste your precious time. So, it helps to have a set of questions to guide you. Here are the five most important ones to ask…and keep on asking on a regular basis:

How will I create value?

This is the single most important question. Why were you put in this role? What do key stakeholders expect you to accomplish? In what timeframe? How will your progress be assessed? As you seek to answer this question, keep in mind that the real answer may not be what you were told when you were appointed or recruited for the job; it may also evolve as things progress and you learn more. Remember, too, that you will probably have multiple stakeholders to satisfy, not just your boss, and that they may have divergent views of what constitutes “success.” It’s essential to understand the full set of expectations so you can reconcile and satisfy them to the greatest degree possible. Read more…

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How to Disagree with Someone More Powerful than You | HBR

Negotiation skills | Workplace |Success  | Career advice

by Amy Gallo | March 17, 2016

Originally appeared in Harvard Business Review

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Your boss proposes a new initiative you think won’t work. Your senior colleague outlines a project timeline you think is unrealistic. What do you say when you disagree with someone who has more power than you do? How do you decide whether it’s worth speaking up? And if you do, what exactly should you say?

What the Experts Say
It’s a natural human reaction to shy away from disagreeing with a superior. “Our bodies specialize in survival, so we have a natural bias to avoid situations that might harm us,” says Joseph Grenny, the coauthor of Crucial Conversations and the cofounder of VitalSmarts, a corporate training company. “The heart of the anxiety is that there will be negative implications,” adds Holly Weeks, the author of Failure to Communicate. We immediately think, “He’s not going to like me,” “She’s going to think I’m a pain,” or maybe even “I’ll get fired.” Although “it’s just plain easier to agree,” Weeks says that’s not always the right thing to do. Here’s how to disagree with someone more powerful than you.

Be realistic about the risks
Most people tend to overplay the risks involved in speaking up. “Our natural bias is to start by imagining all the things that will go horribly wrong,” Grenny says. Yes, your counterpart might be surprised and a little upset at first. But chances are you’re not going to get fired or make a lifelong enemy. He suggests you first consider “the risks of not speaking up” — perhaps the project will be derailed or you’ll lose the team’s trust — then realistically weigh those against the potential consequences of taking action.

Read more…

 

How to Figure Out How Much Influence You Have at Work [HBR]

by Maxim Sytch | February 18, 2019

Informal leadership | Mentoring | Career advice |Success |Relationships |Impact

A banker in Southeast Asia wanted to allow employees of a car rental agency to buy used cars from the employer. But not a single business unit was able to put together that product. Different units were stopped either by the existing product portfolio, the underlying risk, or regulatory guidelines. One of the banker’s colleagues, however, was able to facilitate valuable introductions across the company. That led to the solution being co-designed and jointly offered by two business units.

Credit the success of this new financial product to the banker’s informal power. Informal power — which is unrelated to your formal title — can enable you to mobilize resources, drive change, and create value for the organization as well as yourself. And in the modern workplace, informal power is increasingly pivotal and can secure your place within your organization. Read more…