So, you’ve found a new job. Congratulations! What now? Maybe you’ll throw a party, or buy yourself a present.
But wait. What have you done for your new employer lately?
Don’t get the idea that you were hired to fill a vacancy, or because you’re a nice person, or even because youare bright, talented, and can help the company in some way.
You were hired because your new boss believes that you will make him or her look good!
By virtue of being the new guy/gal,and therefore part of the solution, you have bought a certain amount of time for yourself. Depending on your place in the food chain, you have a window of 30 days to six months to achieve a noticeable victory. A noticeable victory is defined as a significant increase in revenue or reduction in expenses, a process improvement that creates a significant increase in performance, or a major problem solved.
If you are able to achieve such a victory, you will have cemented your reputation as part of the solution and bought significantly more time in which to solve more problems. Failing to do so will firmly place you in the ranks of those considered part of the problem, and cause the axe to fall on you during the next layoff. And don’t fool yourself. There will be a next layoff!
The purpose of this post is to put you in control of your departure from the company, rather than your bosses. It is unlikely that you will retire from this company. Change is afoot. If you don’t manage your career, rest assured that those above you will, and you won’t enjoy it.
So, let’s get started.
Go out and buy yourself a blank book—a lab notebook, a diary, a steno pad, whatever. Once a week (presumably Friday or Saturday) you will take a half hour to an hour out, and make five entries in the book:
1. What you did for your boss during the past week;
2. What you did for the organization during the past week;
3. What you did for the people who work for or with you during the past week;
4. Successes achieved during the past week;
5. What you did for someone in your network during the past week.
What you did for your boss is what you did to make your boss’s job easier or to enhance his/her reputation in the company or business community.
What you did for the organization is what you did to increase revenue, reduce costs, or enhance the organization’s reputation. Organization is loosely defined as that part of the company controlled by your boss’s boss.
What you did for the people who work for or with you is what you did to make their jobs easier or more fun, or to help them advance. This could be as simple as bringing in doughnuts or as complex as turning around a failing employee.
Success is defined as increased revenue, reduced cost, increased efficiency, first ever, biggest, smallest, et cetera. This must include numbers:“Reduced shipping costs by 17%.” NOTE:It is not your boss’s responsibility to track your success; it is your responsibility. You may think that what you do doesn’t lend itself to numbers, but success involves change, and change can usually be expressed in numbers. Find a way.
What you did for someone in your network is what you did to further establish your relationship. It might be catching up over a meal. It might be sending a birthday card. It might be helping that person find a job. If you want future jobs to come to you, you must feed and nurture your network.
My mentor in the business, who explained this process to me, said if you go three weeks without making an entry in the book, you’d better start looking for a job, because you’re going to need a new one. Incidentally, if you only pay attention to the first category, the people in #3 will see to it that you fail. If you only focus on#3, the person who is #1 will fire you. You’ve got to pay attention to all the categories!
Here’s the theory. It’s time for your annual performance review.
Here is what your boss has done to prepare for the review: nothing.He/she is vaguely aware that you were there a year ago because it’s your annual review, knows a little more about what was going on six months ago, and is right on top of the last two weeks.
Here is what you have done to prepare: you have religiously made entries in the above categories. You are armed with a year’s worth of things you did for your boss, a year’s worth of things you did for the organization, and a year’s worth of things you did for your fellow employees or direct reports, plus specific, quantified examples of success. Who do you think wins?
This process netted a client of mine a 40 percent salary increase and a transfer to the only part of the company she knew she wanted to work in. Her boss told her at the time that the raise and transfer were due entirely to what she said in her performance evaluation. What she said in her performance evaluation came entirely from her book.