How to be the new kid on the block
February 17, 2010, 7:20am PST | Length: 00:02:27
You may be brilliant and have an outstanding track record, but you must get a lay of the land at a new job before you go trying to change things.
Toni Bowers: When I first came to work at TechRepublic, I had quite a few years of IT publishing experience under my belt. The woman who hired me was excited by that and thought I could bring a great deal of insight into the operations at TechRepublic.
For the first few weeks, she would end our editorial meetings by asking me if I had any comments. When I didn't, she would look kind of puzzled.
My silence wasn't out of ignorance or apathy, however. I'd learned a long time ago that there's nothing worse than the new kid on the block who comes in with the assumption that she can improve the ways things are.
It's pretty darned arrogant to presume that a functioning company hasn't thought of a particular idea until your superior brain came along. It's actually insulting to the existing employees because you're implying that they didn't have the know-how to already come upon that conclusion themselves, when, in fact, they may have already tried your suggestion 17 iterations ago.
I highly recommend to any new employee that you back up and take stock for a while before you jump in with your pearls of wisdom. Here's why:
In my case, I did have some valid, proven experience and had successful at previous jobs. I can see why that was one of the reasons I was hired. But in a sense, it's really like comparing apples and oranges.
I may have been successful at my previous companies, but that didn't automatically give me a special insight into THIS company. I couldn't apply what I knew to this company until I learned about how it worked.
You can't burst into a position of high visibility at a company (unless you're hired in at CIO). I can't tell you the number of times I've been in company meetings (at all the companies I've worked at) when some new person, in an effort to get on the radar, raises his hand to make some pithy comment. Sometimes the comment is valid, sometimes it's wildly off the mark.
So, if you're a new employee, take your time. Check out the lay of the land first -- on the surface and behind the scenes. Ask lots of questions about the way things work.
Then, if you think you can make a difference, go for it.