I’ve secured a new position in a few weeks time with an organization I’ve always wanted to work for. I want to make sure I’m fully prepared and do a good job, do you have any advice?
Congratulations on your new position! I’m really glad that you are already thinking about starting work and like every good project manager having a plan is a good place to start. When starting with a new company it makes sense that you take advantage of any on-boarding process they may have. If there isn’t a set structure you can create your own!
On-boarding is the process to making sure you quickly become engaged with the organisation and become productive quickly. Most organisations will have a set structure to on-boarding but you can also make sure you’re ready to get the most out of your first weeks and months. During the first weeks you will be looking for support that helps you understand ‘how things get done around here’. These are the organisation’s culture, social norms and behaviours.
A good place to start for any new project manager is the PMO. If a PMO is in place in the organisation they will hopefully be ready and waiting to induct you in the project culture and ‘how projects get done around here’. The PMO will provide information and support on the methodology and best practice as well as those administrative tasks like how to book meeting rooms; how to complete the timesheet and where to go to find templates and tools.
During those initial weeks look to increase your network. Which departments do you need to know about; who are your peers; who will I need to know to make my projects successful. As the new hire you are in a unique position so use it. Colleagues will be happy to grab a coffee or take lunch with you to answer any questions you have. In the first few weeks you should set your own goals. Talk through with your line manager what you need to know and learn within the immediate and longer term future. At this stage you should understand if there were any gaps in your skills or competency that were picked up during the interview process. Add these to your development goals. Separate your goals between project based and socialisation within the organisation so you are focused on now only improving your productivity whilst delivering the project but also working on your engagement to the organisation. Interestingly a large proportion of people who leave their new job within the first year do so because of two things – their performance levels not meeting the grade and their personal fit within the organisation. These are two areas you need to focus on.
Finally think about the plans you need to make that will take you from being the new starter to being a fully-fledged productive successful project manager. Development will be key so look to your line manager to help you understand what needs to be achieved within the first 12 months and schedule regular reviews to track progress. This is crucial if your new employment contract states a probationary period because you will be showing a professional, proactive approach to ensuring you are successful rather than just leaving it to luck. Finally during your first year seek out a mentor within the organisation, someone who will be able to act as a guide, provide support and perhaps become your champion in the years ahead.
This Project Management Q&A is taken from my careers column in PMI’s PM Network magazine (published May 2012). If you have a Q&A Project Management Careers question contact the magazine directly at email@example.com
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