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chapter 15
after three months

You are now well underway in your job. Your work routine should be well-developed and people in the organization should be starting to take you seriously.
Start to address these issues:
  • Find a mentor at work or outside of the organization who is experienced, well-respected and wise. You require someone with whom you can meet every month or so to discuss important work-related issues, problems and opportunities on a confidential basis. Having such an individual serve as an independent sounding board and source of advice will be a major asset to building your career.
  • The selection of the right person to approach to serve as a mentor depends first on which areas you need the most help and second on that person’s willingness to spend a certain amount of time meeting with you on a regular basis. When you request that someone consider acting as your mentor, be clear in describing what is involved in terms of your goals, desired outcomes and need for honest, constructive feedback given by someone you respect and trust. Rather than use the term “mentor”, say something such as, “Would it be possible for me to meet with you from time to time to obtain your advice on various things relating to my position and work?”
  • You are much better off to find your own informal mentor than to wait for your organization to assign one to you on a formal basis. Take an inclusive approach in identifying who would be the best mentor for yourself. If you are a woman, you may gain greater benefit from having a man as your mentor in terms of obtaining a valuable, different perspective.
  • Consider arranging to have different “mentors” to serve different purposes. Also, it’s a two-way street so be alert to finding ways that you can benefit your mentors, such as offering to provide them with help on using technology and social media if you have the know-how to do this.
  • Conduct your own original analysis to figure out what are the truly critical performance and productivity measurements for your job, TEAM, department and organization. Go beyond the ones that have always been used for this purpose in the past. Search for new ways to measure product quality, what matters most to customers, and the other factors important to the organization’s success. Review these with your colleagues and then your supervisor.
  • Be receptive and open-minded to making changes and taking advantage of new industry developments. The survival of organizations depends on their ability to anticipate and adapt to changing circumstances and opportunities, including those of a global nature. Identify the major trends and changes affecting your customers, associates, suppliers and competitors both locally and globally. Think creatively about how technology and the Internet are going to impact your organization and industry from both an opportunity and threat standpoint. The same applies to changing demographics, globalization and government regulations. Revisit these issues regularly.
To keep on a positive track, keep these points in mind:
  • When it comes to your job, confine your worrying to subjects you can change, control or influence. Spend little time worrying about matters beyond your control except for how you should respond in an emergency. Do not generate unnecessary stress for yourself. Stay focused on your area of control.
  • Try to avoid getting saddled with “mission impossibles”. If a project or assignment has consistently defeated everyone who has attempted it in the past, it probably represents a mission impossible. Look behind the obvious factors to determine the fundamental or structural flaws that made the repeated failures inevitable. Say to your supervisor, “I’ve done some research — a number of really capable people haven’t succeeded in this job. Why is this?” Make your supervisor in effect your partner in any such challenging assignment.
  • Pick your battles carefully. Avoid getting involved in contentious issues unless the stakes are serious for the well-being of the organization and you have something meaningful to contribute to their resolution. Refrain from making any personal attacks or charges. Focus on the task at issue, not the person.
  • Do not let yourself burn out in your job. After the first three months, it is time to be disciplined about keeping some balance between the demands of work and the need to have a meaningful personal and family life. Nobody should have to work more than 50 to 60 hours a week. If you find yourself having to do so, then perform a serious rethink of your work routine, practices and priorities. When your job requirements are too great for any one person, review this with your supervisor.
  • Some supervisors will impose demands on you that are excessive from any standpoint, testing what they can get away with. While you obviously have to be careful in doing so, there may be times when you just have to say “no” firmly without apologizing. You may have to negotiate by saying, “I can do that if you no longer require me to do this” or “If you want me to do a proper job, I can have this ready by Wednesday but not by Monday.” Sometimes, it is necessary to establish parameters with your supervisor on what you can and cannot do.
  • Learn how to compartmentalize your professional and personal lives. Do not let your personal and business problems become scrambled together. Mentally and emotionally keep any problem you are experiencing in the compartment it belongs in and do not take it home or vice versa. Failing to do so will affect your productivity and sap your concentration, energy and ability to enjoy life.
  • Crying is not acceptable in the workplace regardless of the provocation. Tears make supervisors think you are being emotionally immature or trying to be manipulative. If you feel you are being unfairly attacked or criticized, down-shift your emotions into low gear. You will never win an argument by getting emotional. Do not let someone push your hot buttons. If necessary, say you would like to continue this discussion after you have an opportunity to think over what was said and excuse yourself from the meeting.
  • Take your job seriously, never yourself. People will forgive you for almost anything unless you are full of yourself and your own self-importance. Demonstrate your sense of humor, including an ability to laugh at yourself.
After you have been in your job for three to six months, you have to be able to talk to your supervisor about compensation, promotion opportunities and workplace issues without giving the impression of being too pushy or a whiner. The key to doing so successfully is to be able to substantiate your request or discussion of the issue in a factual, non-emotional manner. Keep the conversation focused on the present as opposed to some indeterminate point in the future. It also is an advantage to pick the right time and place to have this meeting, such as at the end of the day in a quiet office.
Do not be afraid to make reasonable requests of your supervisor or manager. What is the worst that can happen? An answer of “no” and maybe the benefit of you sending a tactful message that you should not be taken for granted.


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