Hitting a New Job Running

Starting a new position is tough when firms are lean, but chances to shine are immediate.

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It's not news that succeeding at a new job is very difficult. But I'm not sure that I ever really understood why until I read this week's Wall Street Journal interview (subscription required) with Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler. Kindler had this to say about delivering results:

You have to set a strong foundation before you can do much else. I think it would be foolish to try to accomplish a lot of things before you have the capabilities of doing them, and we needed to fix the foundation of this company in a whole host of ways.

So what does this have to do with a new job? It doesn't apply. Rarely does any new employee have time to "set a strong foundation" before being required to deliver, particularly in a slowdown when companies are seeing sluggish revenue growth and need all hands on deck. That's what makes it so difficult. We're supposed to "hit the ground running." That hurts. It's hard on your knees.

But once you realize that's the requirement, it ought to be exhilarating to know what you are immediately capable of contributing. Consider what the Talent Smoothie blog had to say about succeeding in a new position:

My friend, a 26-year-old high flyer started a new job in January in a medium-sized consultancy. I saw him last week and he has already been promoted and was telling me how much difference he has been able to make already....

Contrary to assertions that Gen Y are flighty and don't want to stick at a job, our research shows that if they are getting what they want they will stay, and they will be loyal. My friend has every intention of staying in his company, he has had a flying start there and in a short period of time has been recognized, valued, been given the freedom to contribute and show what he can do.


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