New Year, New Job? What’s Your Plan for Success?

If you are like me, your new year coincided with a new job, CONGRATULATIONS!

If again you are like me, you have probably hit the ground running. That’s the natural response. No doubt, there are many of things on your plate—some of which your boss wants done ‘yesterday’.  So I understand your situation, but I want to encourage you to take moment to consider the following question:  “What’s your plan for success?”  Whether you are in a new job or not, taking the time to answer this question can improve your professional success, as well as the success rates of your projects.  And what better time to do a plan than at the start of a new year?

As you consider your plan for success, here are seven things to think about:

1.  What’s the culture of your organization? Even if you are in the same job as last year, the culture may have changed based on new management or direction. Knowing what’s important and highly valued in your organization gives you information you can use when you are making decisions, working with partners or team members, resolving problems, and presenting to upper management.  There are many factors that drive internal variations in the culture of business functions (e.g. finance vs. marketing) and units (e.g. a fast-moving consumer products division vs. a pharmaceuticals division of a diversified firm).  One of my favorite books related to leadership and culture is written by Edgar Schein, Organizational Leadership and Culture.

2.  Which resources and tools does everyone use? You may not have strong SharePoint skills, for example, but if that is how your organization collaborates and shares information, you’d better learn quickly or you will be left out.  Figure out if there is a process or tool that is the key to your new position and make sure you become an expert at it!  This may mean asking for documentation (good luck), job aids, books or finding training to acquire the skills and knowledge you need.

3.  How does the organization communicate? Is there open, honest communication, or do people hoard tips, project status, and critical information?  If it’s the latter, you’ll have to prove yourself and build your network quickly to be able to get what you will need to succeed?  Become an effective communicator in your new role and it really takes practice, practice, practice.

4.  How are people resources selected for, and managed on projects?  Are there a few key people who seem to be on every project, overused and overworked and in short supply?  If so, why? Is the organization thin in the project resources you’ll need to succeed? Is outsourcing a possibility if hiring is not?  Is there a resource management or resume database you can review to get a feel for skill gaps that will affect your projects?  Or even better, are there resources in the organization that everyone has put into the “wrong” jobs and just need your “management” to motivate them into a better role in order to succeed?

5.  Which projects are key?  If your organization has many projects ongoing, and you’ve been tasked to manage more than one of them, how can you quickly figure out which projects are important, and where to focus your attention? Perhaps there is a project portfolio that ranks the projects and indicates the business strategies each of them supports. If not, schedule a meeting as soon as possible to understand which projects are most critical to your management.  Be sure to learn any tips from peers or books on how to avoid the pitfalls that may have already been done.

6.  Get to know and understand your new boss.  I wrote a post in 2009 about Surviving a New Boss, and many readers have told me this is a key for success in a new role.  Be sure you plan out your strategy and plans for

7.  Don’t neglect your own development.  The New Year is always a good time to reflect on the success you want to achieve within this job, and as you plan for your future growth.  I recently read a good little book Breaking Tape: 7 Steps to Winning at Work and Life. It’s a practical seven-step guide to help you define and achieve success to make the positive changes you desire.

I hope these suggestions help you get started on the right foot this year, whether you’re in a new job, or not. Do you have other tips you can share?

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