lucy-dunnLucy Dunn (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) | 30 January 2015

New Year brings new plan, and for some, it means doing something new/different. It is that time of year again – If you are looking to make a change now is the time. After end-of-year bonuses are out and around Chinese New Year, you may have just landed your dream job or promotion, or you are about to look for new opportunities in the market because you are seeking something better out there.

Besides finding an opportunity, acing the interview and negotiation the final package, there are actually many other things to think about to help you on your way to a successful start. We all have the experience of the first week/month, working in a new company. You are excited yet feeling overwhelmed by everything around you. You want to do well and show the hiring manager that it is the best decision to hire you, so your alert is at an all-time high and it can be stressful. Meanwhile, the HR department wants to do a good job of making sure all your relevant data is collected so that they can pay you on time, as well as giving you an overview of the organization ensure that you know the “where”, “who”, “what” , “how” and the relevant protocols of the company. Your hiring manager is excited to get you up and running after what always feels like a long wait from the joy of a final offer/acceptance until the actual start date. Your new manager will make as much time as they can and convey as much as they think will help but have you ever wondered – is there something more? Something essential in this initial phase that could make you a success?

  • Company DNA. What is the company “DNA?” What is the core culture and values or history of defeats? Are people formal or informal with one another? What is their communication style? Do the managers really have open-door policy? Does each department or regional office have a different culture, influenced by the local boss or is the style centralized? These might be considered small details, but it is critically important if you were to be part of the family and speaking the same language should be high on your list
  • Maximizing your exposure. Be social at the early days. I know, it is exhausting learning all the new systems and new faces at the beginning, and you most likely are desperate to get home after work. It is really important to also get to know your colleagues, particularly those whom you deal with on a daily basis. Because of work pressures, it is often more effective to encourage meeting in a more relaxed outside-of-work settings so you can gently “dig” a bit more about the company, such as who works well with who, who does not get on with who, how do thing really work in the company, who is the real decision maker…. It is important for your success to make a place to talk about all these topics which are not as openly discussed in the office. Besides, you will also get a glimpse at the politics. Are there any favorite “children” or internal candidates who are next in line for promotion? What are the kind of personalities does management tend to favor? Which direction is the boss taking the whole company and why? After you have gathered your data, how can you participate in the key conversations? If appropriate, what can you propose to the management as next steps in the changes that are desired?
  • Informal organizational chart. Yes, it could be more important to your career than the formal organization chart. You will have access to the team structure and not necessarily to the entire company personnel setup. It takes more than IQ to figure out the intricate work relationships between individuals and departments. Your observations skills will be the key here. Who is the “go to” person for certain guidance or deeper understanding of a sales situation or market? In meetings, who speaks last, who do the heads-turn subconsciously when a key decision comes up? It may even be important to understand the natural alliances that form in competitive workplaces. Who socialize with who at lunch or at the coffee machine? Who leaves the office together and goes onto pubs after work? Your “Sherlock Holms” detective skills will be put in good use at this stage. Your EQ will be put to good use, especially when you need to figure out who are the key figures you need to influence, i.e. you have to start planning your way to progress up the career ladder

I believe the above is particularly applicable to new employees of the company. And some applies equally to long-term employees. There are many things which could directly and indirectly affect how your performance is perceived, and in turn, your career prospect within the company.

My point is, besides your excellent skills and experience from which the company based the hiring decision, it is only the beginning of the ever-ongoing-interview process; your action, and especially your reaction to events in the company, are probably more influential to your career than you think. As the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Travis Bradberry, points out, EQ is definitely another kind of smart which is highly sought after in the modern workplace and something that we can all develop. Do you know that 90% of top performers have developed a high EQ? I don’t think it is a coincidence. Have I missed anything? As always, I look forward to your comments and questions.

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