A 100-Day Plan for Your New Job
That's a particularly important point for IT workers, who have to please not only their supervisors, but also colleagues in the business units they serve, Farren adds.
"We're not talking about how many people you know in the organization. We're talking about a purposeful network, where you've met people who can help you," says Bill Byham, chairman and CEO of Development Dimensions International Inc., a management consulting firm in Bridgeville, Pa.
When Hartzman moved from his tech job supporting the sales division at a computer vendor to a job managing the tech support staff, he developed a plan that called for meeting with the salespeople.
"That's where I spent most of my time in the first 90 days -- building confidence within the sales team, so they would help me build the relationships I needed with the customers," Hartzman says.
4. Understand the culture.
One of the trickiest tasks of any new job is figuring out the corporate culture and office politics so you don't step on toes or run afoul of your colleagues.
Cathie Kozik, corporate vice president of IT at Motorola Inc., remembers that when she first arrived at Motorola, she assumed that as a high-tech organization, it would have the same procedures as her previous company. So she ran monthly operations reviews as she had always done, not realizing it wasn't part of the culture there. Although it wasn't a major sticking point, she admits that there was a "What's she trying to prove?" sentiment as a result.
That taught Kozik to put aside assumptions and pay attention to the subtle behaviors that make the organization tick.
5. Target an early win.
People will judge you from the start, so you have to establish credibility quickly. One way to do that is to look for an early win.
That's why Paddock's plans include a step to identify and resolve a known problem. "I find the biggest problem that I can and develop a plan to solve it, so it can have a big impact," she says. "This way, your bosses know you're not someone who will sit around and do the easy stuff. You're going to hit the hard stuff."
You Blew It -- Now What?
Cathie Kozik, corporate vice president of IT at Motorola, vividly recalls making a major mistake in the first month at her first job out of college. She reformatted the drive on the company's test system, and with a single command, she froze up the system.
"I remember being terrified," she says, "but the take-away was twofold: One, fess up. Bad news does not get better with aging. And make sure you step up."
Kozik, then a customer service engineer at a high-tech company, admitted her mistake and then had to reload the system from scratch while her new colleagues enjoyed a few days' worth of downtime.
IT leaders and career coaches agree that Kozik followed the basic steps that can save your skin when you screw up:
1. Admit your mistake. "There is the potential for recovery -- if you recognize what you've done," says Michael D. Watkins, co-founder of Genesis Advisers.
2. Apologize. "Part of fixing the situation is demonstrating that you've got it," Watkins says. "It's saying you're sorry to people you ticked off."
3. Fix what you broke. "It builds your reputation quickly if you handle it well -- that you're honest, that you're a problem-solver, that you're willing to learn," says Caela Farren, founder and CEO of MasteryWorks. "Those are things that are assets for tech workers, as IT is one of the quickest-changing functional areas."
Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.