Now that you’re settled into your new role, it’s time to focus on your first important tasks to ensure your success on this project and increase your chances of being kept on or hired again.
Effectively completing one or more project-critical tasks, ensuring your manager’s expectations are met, and building lasting relationships with the key players in your environment will get your career off to a strong start.
Prove yourself and put your manager at ease
Hiring managers do their best to learn your skills during the interview process, but your manager won’t really be confident in your ability until he or she tests your skills. It’s possible your new manager will assign you a task in the first week specifically designed as a “test” to prove you’re able to perform the role you were hired for.
Don’t worry, this is completely normal and to be expected. In fact this kind of test can be an important opportunity, particularly if you’re prepared to use the techniques below to make the most of it:
If you’re lucky enough to be given a choice between first tasks, pick an easy one!
■ Be sure to clarify with your manager exactly what the task is and what his or her expectations are, before you begin
■ Think carefully before estimating a completion date, and make sure you add a contingency when doing so—detail the plan plus contingency to your manager
■ Ask your manager whether he or she would like to be in the immediate loop with emails, or just receive periodic updates (and if so, how often)
■ Once you begin the task, make sure you’re getting adequate support from other teams and if you’re not, let your manager know
■ Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you’re struggling in some area, don’t hesitate to let your manager know rather than keeping it to yourself—no one is an expert in every area, and it’s better to give your manager a heads-up before missing a deadline
■ If you are not assigned enough work in the project, you should let your manager know you are capable of handling a bigger workload. Use your initiative to see if there are other tasks on the project you could do.
Meeting these first expectations is important to your success on the project team, not only with your manager but also with your colleagues on the team as well as the business users. As a consultant, everyone you’re working with will be looking to see if you perform well and have useful knowledge to contribute.
In fact, if you can volunteer knowledge or offer to help out with something outside the scope of your first task, this is a great way to prove your worth to the project team and build a great first impression.
Assisting other team members and colleagues will put you on good footing later in the project, and help you prove your worth and build relationships that will come in handy down the road. Projects require the co-operation across teams, and you can certainly expect to need help at some point during the project life cycle.