Monday, January 14, 2008

Negotiations and Love Songs

This is my final week of unemployment. (Hold the applause, please.) So, with my first day at work looming, I am beginning to plan for a most successful start at my new job.

I haven't told you what my new job is yet, have I? Well, let's do that now. I will be working at a teaching hospital in Boston managing grants for research in cardiology. It's not a Development job anymore; this falls under the heading of Research Administration. But I think this job will be so much more of a fit for me than working in Development was. I will get to use all my organizational skills and management skills, and at the same time, I will be learning about cardiology, which I find fascinating. Organization + Science = Great Opportunity.

And so, before I embark on this wonderful job (which will include my own office which is not a cubicle!) I am looking back at all my experience and thinking about all the advice I've ever been given so that I will start off on the right foot.

Be Quiet--For A While

From my colleague at Last Job, who has a personality much like my own, except she has a lot more seniority, I have the advice to be an observer for the first three months. Do my work, be pleasant and polite, but don't draw attention to myself. Figure out who is who and know who you're dealing with before you get really comfortable. In my last job, I initially felt very welcomed, and I did settle in far too quickly, assuming that I was too much of an asset to worry about nitpicking office politics. One book I skimmed through recently, Work 101, mentioned a variant of this advice: write down all the unspoken rules as you find them. This could be as tiny as "Don't do large copying jobs first thing in the morning because everyone else has little things to copy then" or as complex as "Joe in Accounting is going through a divorce so watch what you say about your spouse around him." By keeping an actual list of the day to day "rules," I'm hoping to avoid doing something that would piss someone off and come back to kick me later on in a grudge match.

Know Thy Neighbor

I'll be working with about five researchers, and I'm going to make a point of knowing their names, how to spell them, and what their research specialty is. I care about their research, and I want them to know that I respect them very much, and that I'm not just an admin who does the paperwork.

Avoid Ambiguity

I've already emailed my new boss to see if we can meet before my first day to hammer out details. I want to know all the mundane pieces that will be expected of me. For example: working hours. At my first job, I was supposed to be in at 9:00, and I usually got there at 8:45 because my commute was so short. Some days I'd stay late (particularly during busy parts of the year) and, in exchange, my boss never said boo about my taking an extra 15 minutes at lunchtime because I would go to the gym and need the time to shower and change. At my second job, the actually hours were 9-5, but most of the staff showed up at 9:30 or 10. All that mattered was that I was in before everyone else. At my last job, I was expected to be at my desk at 8:30. Sometimes my train would be late and if that happened, I would stay however much longer at the end of the day to make up for it. When I started, my boss said she wasn't going to be a nitpicker about it. But surprise, surprise, that was one of the charges laid against me when they wanted to get rid of me. I want to make sure I know where we stand on this with my new boss.

So these are the first things I've identified to help smooth my way in my new job. Any other things I should add on?

1 responses:

Sarah Barah said...

They all look like good tips to me. I'd encourage you to not see the three month time frame as concrete. One of the reasons they hired you is because they will appreciate your input and perspective. Don't be overly hesitant to share it.

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