First few days in any organisation you join are critical for your success. If you falter, you lose confidence to move ahead. Everything looks strange.
Working with people relatively unknown to you is a difficult task. You are completely unaware of emotions, attitudes, behaviour or even capabilities and deficiencies of your colleagues or superiors,
In fact, in the present age of job mobility, such experiences can be one too many. However, each time you enter a new organisation, you are bound to confront newer experiences, including even when you are moving up the ladder within the office or when shifting to a new section.
As I entered my office for the first time as the editor, everything appeared confusing. Completely unaware of individual strengths and weaknesses, challenges of the newspaper, what has been done so far, and what could be done were questions that came in a series of baffling moments.
However, confounding it may be, my mandate gave me the strength. How should I begin? As I ponder, Walt Disney's simple but wise remark that I read sometime somewhere came to my rescue. The animation genius said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”.
The best thing I could do was to remain tight-lipped and only keep open my ears. It would not expose my ignorance, at least!
People would open up. I started interacting with my colleagues. I always believed organisations prosper only through cumulative wisdom, collective functioning and a strong and affirmative leadership.
Failing which, it would either degenerate into regimentalised scenario that stifles creative contribution or gives way to a functional anarchy as people work at cross purposes.
As I continued to interact, things started becoming clearer. People were unmasked. Issues got unraveled. My work profile got demystified.
Therefore, appraise and assess so as to make the first steps decisive. As the ancient Chinese philosopher, Laozi said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”.
Capitalise on your strengths and do not enter into areas you are not comfortable with. Religiously adhere to this time-tested principle and you will not regret a single moment.
When new environs make you uncomfortable, working in an area where you are strong puts you in the comfort zone. As you get acclimatised to the new work atmosphere, you can deal with difficult and even unfamiliar tasks more nonchalantly.
You then move on to realise the skill gap-what is expected of you and what you possess. This requires an honest and critical self-appraisal.
As American singer, Tori Amos, observed “Some people are afraid of what they might find if they try to analyse themselves too much, but you have to crawl into your wounds to discover where your fears are. Once the bleeding starts, the cleansing can begin”.
The first few days of your career are critical for a host of reasons. But primarily as Michael Watkins, author of the updated ‘The First 90 Days’, says, “People form opinions pretty quickly, and these opinions tend to be sticky.”
“If you don’t take time upfront to figure out how to get the team working well, problems are always going to come up,” says Mary Shapiro, the author of the HBR Guide to Leading Teams.
Do not rush to start achieving your targets. Based on my personal observations and extensive interactions with both my colleagues in the office and stakeholders outside, I could finalise the list of things I should immediately do.
You need not be the best. At least, ensure that you are not the worst of the lot. Identify something unbecoming of you.
Therefore before aiming high in your career, evaluate yourself vis-à-vis your latent talent. Rise up to the average standard of the organisation and then try to score over others.
Many who join an organisation start finding the limitations in the new set up rather than working for improvement. But, a successful man would not harp over limitations. Instead, he evaluates ‘have I done the best I could within my limitations.’
One who could not climb a tree should not complain about the invincibility of Mount Everest. Let me do what I can do with the existing resources. This attitude helps you to fit into the organisation you newly entered or the task you recently took up.
As you begin your new journey you may interact or they may volunteer to advise you. People around you would always be ready to even inundate you with unsolicited advice.
You get suffocated when you are detached from others. But, you get exacerbated when you open up. Still the second choice is the better. Listen to everyone but act according to what your conscience tells you.
A wavering mind does not achieve anything. A group of people would always present diverse and conflicting opinions.
The leader should be exposed to all these but should be in a position to separate the useful from the ocean of useless advices.
This is especially so in your first steps. But, as you settle down at your work, do not reconcile to the system if it has to be altered.
As the American climate scientist, Mark Caine advises us, “The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself in.”