Recently a few friends completed graduate study, and got full time positions. They asked me the question: how to start in the new company? Or put in another way, how to win the trust from the boss/coworkers, and do well in the new company?
While I don’t think I am expert on all these, I do believe I have learned a great deal in my past six years. So here are my experience and lessons (some are learned from the hard way).
First, business is very different from the school. While in school a student is measured by scores or GPA; in business an individual contributor is measured by performance (or contribution, or results). In school a student can simply do the homework, read the text book, work on the projects, prepare/take the test and get “A”. Note all these tasks are assigned by the instructors. The only thing a student can show some creativity is the project, in that case he/she can get some bonus points if he/she do really well. In the company the boss (manager, project leader) will typically give some guidance for the work, they may even give detailed instructions for the new hire, but in my mind, if a guy/girl really want to do well, he/she should be more proactive. This means working closely with the boss and coworkers, define what needs to be done, and deliver it.
Let me emphasize this again, what matters is the “results”, not how hard you work, not how funny your joke is during lunch break, or how many common hobbies you and your boss share. The reason is simple, business is for profit, ultimately everyone in the company should strive for that goal. I remember Jack Welch once said, a company without profit can not give back to the share holders, the employees and the community. Very much true.
OK, back to the topic. To be successful, I believe two things are equally important: work hard (the real work) and make the work known to others (marketing, communication, customer relations). When I first started, I put lots of emphasis on the first portion and did not take the second portion seriously. As I gained more exprience, I began to appreciate the importance of “speak up” or get “buy in” from the management or customers. The reason is also simple: if one doesn’t speak up during a few meetings, people will not ask his/her opinions later on; without the management’s “buy in” your work and effort could be wasted because the results may not be what the customer wants.