“I got flustered."
Sherry is the project manager interfacing between marketing and manufacturing. She was explaining to me how Marketing made a last minute decision to move up the launch date with a different package. Sherry quickly developed a new plan and told the manufacturing team what she needed.
The team promptly rejected her new plan.
They pointed out that there wasn’t enough time to order new materials to meet the new timeline. It was something a more experienced project manager would have known.
But Sherry was a newbie - less than 3 months into her role.
Sound familiar? Are you new to the job? Take a page from the people who transition seamlessly from job to job, establishing their credibility even when they have a limited background in their new position.
What's their secret?
They have a system for learning WHAT is important and HOW to get things done.
Here are 8 WHAT and HOW strategies to jump start your first 100 days.
Get calibrated on WHAT's important.
Ask about the fringes.
You can't focus on everything, so spend it evaluating the best and the worst. You can ask about the best and worst project, or the best and worst strategy. If you're a project manager, ask what traits make for the most and least effective of a project manager.
Look for rules of thumb
People have all kinds of shortcuts to keep information straight. Ask people to share theirs with you. For instance, how long does it take to order new bottles? Or what does an average day's throughput look like? Are there easy substitutions when a product is out of stock?
Find out what “normal” is.
One business’ “bad” is another’s “awesome” so the last thing you want to do is assume what worked in your previous business is the same in your new one. I like to ask, what does success look like? What about failure? Is normal on time, early or late?
What’s “in” and what’s "out?”
Learn what the priorities are and what are the “pet ducks” versus the “dogs.”
Learn HOW things are done
Win over your interfaces
You're dealing with new people and unfamiliar processes. Ask them what are 3-5 things you can do to make their job easier. OR harder. Avoid making their job harder. Information is also key - what information should you share with them and when?
Focus on decisions and decision makers
Learn who makes the decisions and when they like to get involved. Find out what they like to know, and in what format: meetings? emails? Ask about the "REAL" influencers and how to win them over. Sometimes the real decisions are made in an unwritten, informal way.
Handle changes like the pro's
Nothing's certain except changes. Find out what kind of information you need to know when proposing a change. Ask how to make an exception or how to manage last minute changes. Learn what rules of thumbs people apply.
Learn what's high leverage
It's easy to get lost in details. When you join up, ask people what information are you expected to know, and where to find it. Find out which are the most critical measures and why. Get insight on which meetings are "no miss."
If you are taking over a system, get perspective on what's considered critical. Then find out what are their key inputs.
Not for long!
Interested in learning more about join ups and effectiveness? Check out these Evoke posts:
Contact the Editor if you are looking for a more comprehensive list of "How To's"
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