10 tips for doing well at your new job

[Got bored of writing about infra/roads/development/etc, so here is a change]

So books with job interview tips like this one have landed you a good high tech job. Now, how do you make sure you do well here? Here are 10 tips to help, common wisdom observed over time. We all follow some of these, but I wish I could follow them all. Remember, average players make the best coaches!

1) Try to understand what exactly your company does. No trainer will tell it all. Do three things:

  • Read your company’s public/external website. Read the spin being put on the products/services.
  • Try get to internal versions of the same “spin”. If you can get access to the product management sites on the intranet, nothing like it!
  • Read those boring internal communications VPs and Execs send out few times every month. No one ever reads those word by word. If you can, you get ahead.

2) Between the two, going deep, versus going wide, make your pick. Go for either breadth of knowledge or depth. Hedging between the two will only tear your career apart. Only the very best can do both, and there is 98% chance that you are not amongst them.

3) Whenever you voice a smart sounding opinion or suggestion, try to have data or quantitative thoughts to support it. Bosses and executives love data, and the people who like to create/consume data.

4) At times, do agree with fellow co-workers you secretly admit to be as smart as yourself. You could do this two ways:

  • If your ego allows it, listen to the smart co-workers. Because once in a while they will make more sense than you.
  • Otherwise, just follow this 1 in 4 rule, that is, if you shot 3 of their ideas down, nod for the fourth one. It is important to acquire that “friendly” and easy-to-work-with perception.

5) Keep those so-called free-and-frank opinions to yourself. In general, say only the things that could find favor with your bosses. If you must share a different sounding opinion, then:

  • It better be something that can appear as being aligned with your company says and does (tip #1)
  • Have some data to back it (tip #3).

6) Find a manager you genuinely like, and try work for him or her. There is no point working for a boss you don’t like. Just quit or make an internal move.

7) Never take credit for other people’s work, though this type of action will provide short-term boost to your career. Two problems with that:

  • One, the word eventually comes around and you will get exposed.
  • Two, if you give credit to the deserving co-workers, it helps you win that important easy-to-work-with and friendly-guy perception.

8) Remember to blow your trumpet for any good work you do. There is nothing wrong with that, we all work to let others know that we actually do. As long as you are not doing #7, being vocal about your achievements is okay. But, a rule of thumb – good work is something at least one person called out as good, not everything you thought you did well may qualify as “good work”.

9) But at the same time, try use a lot of “we”s as opposed to “I”s. Employees who prefer the collaborative pronoun over the selfish sounding one, tend to go farthest. If you are not natural at it, try this. A few “I”s are okay, but in general, before you send any email, consider replacing most “I”s with “We”s.

10) Remember the things you chose not to reveal for the “greatest weakness” question they asked at the interview? Two things about them:

  • New job is a new place for creating a “brand new image”. Who knows what exactly you have been? Remember your ‘weak’ spots and work to cover them.
  • In your performance reviews (or focals), if your boss didn’t provide any negative feedback, he/she is either cheating you, or saying indirectly that you are not “positive” enough person to work on your negatives. So nag your boss down during each focal to get an “honest list of things” to improve on.

Alright. So now tell me if you have any tips to share.

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6 Responses

  1. Thank You for those tips. It was a nice read.

  2. In smaller organizations, good/bad work is usually quickly seen.

    In larger organizations, all ‘excellent’ performers are actually seen as trouble-makers. Excellent work alone would not get you anywhere at all.

    Have the intelligence to know your boss, and the wisdom to not point out his faults :).

  3. But I heard in Bangalore techies are shifting jobs so often these days like changing clothes..So companies are careful while hiring..I heard if company B even pays 1000 bucks more techies are shifting the job from company A..Is that so? Anyway it is bad for companies..I guess that is why Apple closed the shop in India.

  4. Thanks Harshad.

    ApunKD, true. things do work different in small vs large organizations. But if you look at your imdt group in a large org as being the same as a small org, its almost the same. Why it actually isn’t – its all in our minds.

    NRIKaAwaaz – For a thousand bucks more? Not really. this is how you can generalize. 4-8 yrs exp folks jump the most – immaturity. 9/10+ yrs either get lazy or realize jumping has only screwed up their careers, so they stick (if you dont trouble them). Purely based on my experience and observations.

    Those who close shops, they just couldn’t learn to work in this environment. Outsourcing etc isn’t easy. There are cost savings, and there is quality, but it is not as easy as just showing up and opening a shop here.

  5. Good suggestions Sir. My suggestions would be:
    1. Go slightly beyond your job. Do a little, a little extra than your bit of work. Say like, generate some report, or consolidate some data
    2. Try to understand the policies of the company which most of the times many of the employees dont know. If you know them and can guide your colleagues, you could be very popular with them.

  6. Thanks Shiv. Your two points are good ones. However, doing those two need some other basics to be in place first – stuff like that is what I tried to mention here.

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