EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

So, you’ve started a new job. Congratulations. Now you only have to survive the first 90 days and then the first year. After that, your tenure will be more related to the business than to personalities.

The first thing I would suggest you do is get a copy of John Lucht’s book “Insights for the Journey.” On page 17 is a jewel of a section titled “Fit In.” If you read this section and take it to heart, it will be worth the price of the book.

You remember all that stuff you were told about shaking things up and being a change agent? Wrong! Your first goal is to gain the support of those around you so they won’t try to kill you. You can’t be much of a change agent if everyone is trying to kick the chair out from under you. Put aside everything the “boss” told you about your esteemed peers and get to know them and draw your own conclusions. While the boss may be right, even when he is wrong, the usual story is actually that you can shake things up as long as you don’t get anyone upset.

Next, let’s understand why you have been hired. If you are a member of The FENG, chances are that you are older. With your 20+ years of work experience you have left the “great corporation” and are now working at a smaller firm. Not always true, but humor me here.

Smaller firms hire well experienced senior executives because they have serious problems. Don’t kid yourself for a moment. If there was time for learning on the job, they would have hired someone for ½ your salary and let them struggle. Since you have been hired for your wealth of experience, expect there to be a steady stream of your peers coming in and out of your office all day long seeking your advice.

To further your inability to get anything done, at a smaller firm you will no longer have the staff you had previously. Not only is everything broken, but there is often no one at a senior level to delegate tasks that you honestly shouldn’t be doing. That said; you have to do them.

So, as you try to complete your responsibilities, you are up against some formidable odds. You can try working more hours, but keep in mind that you actually aren’t as young as you used to be. It is very possible you will wear yourself down and get grumpy. Not a good thing for someone who has a constant series of guests in his office bothering him.

The second bit of advice I have for you is to keep in mind that the boss said you had to get it ALL done, but he never said you had to do it yourself.

Let’s assume that it takes you most of the first several days to get things organized. Now you know the problems to be solved. You may even know what the solutions are. The thing to do is bring in outside help. Yes, it can be expensive, but so is not getting them done. Your peers and your boss will beat you up more for not clearing your “to do list” than for spending a few needed dollars.

There are lots of places to get help. If it is less senior level stuff, call one of the temporary agencies such as Robert Half. If it is senior level stuff, call one of the members you may have met during your search. If you aren’t sure how to solve the problem, and you don’t know any members who can help, call me and I will find you someone.

Your first and foremost goal is to survive that first year. After that, in a small firm you become part of the family.

Those of you who would like to add to the lessons of your jobs, please send your thoughts to Leads@TheFENG.org and title them: Surviving your first year. Leslie will publish them in our Notes from Members section.

Regards, Matt

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