Sudden Impact

When Starting a New Job or Joining a New Team, How Do You Quickly Acquire Knowledge and Earn Respect?





“Learning the work deliverable expectations is important, because we can be held accountable to the standards of our work. For example, when I recently joined a project team, I was delivering cost reports using the same standards and format as in my previous team. When I was reminded that I now had to adhere to new standards, I quickly adapted even though I did not agree with some of the processes. I suggested incremental solutions as time went by without disrupting the team dynamic. This worked well in streamlining some of the work processes and increasing productivity. We have to keep an open mind when joining a new team and offer to help the other members.”

—Endrit Gallani, PMP, cost and schedule analyst, Bruce Power, Tiverton, Ontario, Canada


“I find that staying engaged and listening is an effective way to acquire knowledge quickly and to earn immediate respect. This can be done by consistently showing up to routine project meetings and keeping abreast of email correspondence between core project team stakeholders. Listening intently during meetings and having good awareness of correspondence can help provide a broader project understanding and help better meet the needs of a project or program. These two approaches have consistently equipped me to ask more informed questions, to learn quickly about project history and current issues, and to understand and navigate more efficiently regarding how and where I can contribute to the continued success of a team.”

—Raquan Hall, managing partner, principal engineer, HGD, Alexandria, Virginia, USA


What steps do you take to quickly transition to a new project team or new organization? Share your tips on the PMI Project, Program and Portfolio Management LinkedIn Group.


“You can earn instant respect by taking on the toughest tasks, doing things right the first time, being the hardest worker in the team, walking the talk and not drawing conclusions too early. But most of all, never forget to be kind—that will resonate with the rest of the team.”

—Malik Irfan, PMP, data center facility solution architect, Huawei Technologies, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


“There's really no such thing as immediate respect: You have to build it. Conducting stay interviews with team members is a good way to start. Basically, you should meet with all team members and ask what makes them come to work in the morning and what makes them want to stay in bed. It'll show you care, and it's a good start on the long road of building trust.”

—Andrew Miles, PMP, senior engineering manager, Sondrel Ltd., Bristol, England


“Read as much information as you can consume and meet as many stakeholders as possible. This will help you understand what they think the projects are about, what their drivers and challenges are and how the projects are progressing. Take plenty of notes and capture their observations—especially the things they find good about the project and the deliverables. Find out who your champions are and learn from them quickly. Speak in simple terms with no fluff. If you are honest and set expectations, you will earn the respect and gain the trust you need to be successful.”

—Barrie Clarke, CEO, BI Consulting, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


“To make a maximum impact from the start, it's critical to comprehend the company's vision, its business process, its workflow and, most importantly, its flaws and lag times between each work step. I have been able to do this within one to two months after joining a new company with new team members. I ask four questions when I join a new team:

1. How are things done?

2. What is required to get things going?

3. What are the constraints?

4. What are we planning to achieve?

I discussed the four questions with my division head when I started a new role last year. It helped me quickly develop a plan to successfully complete 153 unattended maintenance and upgrading projects.”

—Raditya Reksamudra Akbar, project engineer specialist, Sinarmas Agribusiness and Food, West Java, Indonesia

False Starts

Senior executives say the following factors have contributed to failure when they transition to new roles.

Top problems:

img Poor grasp of how the organization works
img Misfit with organizational culture
img Difficulty forging alliances with peers
img Lack of understanding of business model
img Ineffective decision making
img Disagreement over strategy
img Lack of experience or skill

Source: Egon Zehnder/Genesis Advisers, 2017

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