Don’t waste time learning the “tricks of the trade.” Instead, learn the trade. ~James Charlton
Different times in my life, for various reasons; I decided to embark on a new job. For years, I worked for the top three competitors of the same food category. The transition between them was fairly easy because although different companies, being the same business segment they also had a lot of similarities. But then one day, I decided to shake up things a bit and went out of my comfort accepting a job offer in a new industry.
How you set up yourself to be successful on a new job? During the interview process, you advertise all your skills and experience and now is time to show it. As a manager, I recruited many people during my career and my objective is to help them to be successful. With that in mind, I guide them through a couple of steps, which are the same I followed.
First thing is to make sure that you fully understand your role. Get that job description and read it, highlight those items that are not very clear, ask what they mean. If you did your assignment, during the interview process you ask most of the questions but ensure you know all the expectations; performance appraisal goals, work hours, travel and others.
My second step it to meet the key people. Start with your own department and continue with all the others. If you are in a new industry, like I was; you will have to learn the process and those things that are different and unique to this new one. A good way to do this is to ask the department managers for an overview of their processes and if it is possible to spend some hours with the people who perform those processes. There is no better way to learn than going to the gemba and see.
This step is very important because can set the tone of how your relationship with all these people will be. Be respectful of their time. listen carefully, learn from their experiences. Let them explain you those things they are proud of, make questions, engage in the conversation and ask for advice. How you can you help them? What they think should be your top priorities? Identify the people who are willing and able to help you, those with more experience who can be like a mentor for you.
How much time you spend to go through those steps depend on you, the company and of course your boss. I think this process can be anywhere from a month to three months. Knowing how your department and your role relates to the whole is very helpful to create your work plan. If everything went as expected, also you build the foundation for a successful work relationship with your peers. You don’t need any tricks, just to work letting your experience be an asset but not a roadblock to your learning process.