The ninety day test

It used to be, either out of tradition or superstition, that when you started a new job you remained discreet about the company, job role and circumstances, at least for the first 90 days*, just in case it didn’t work out and well if you did fall on your face who, apart from a handful, would ever know about it?
(* Ninety days, or three months, corresponds with the trial period of time companies and individual, in most European countries, give each other to see if the onboarding works or not.)

Today in a world where news spreads through the ethernet and Social web like some Californian forest fire annihilating neatly kept suburban Santa Barbara gardens, updating your Socio-professional profile is an exercise in communications worthy of an MBA, not only because if it doesn’t work out everyone will know you screwed but also because the competition and some less benevolent persons are just waiting to exploit the slightest “blooper”.

When I started my new job three months ago I was sure of 2 things: 1) It was going to be hard work but 2) it was going to OK because I knew my job. Now three months later I’m sure of three more things: 3) I was damn right, it was hard work, 4) I had to learn another, more technical and definitely stricter aspect of my trade and 5) to paraphrase Harry Truman, I learned that the “Buck” always stops somewhere…

The Buck stops here The Buck stops here

… I’ll qualify these last 3 points:
Point #3. I worked long years in hotels and restaurants and know what 50 or 60+ hour weeks are. You go in mornings, you do your job and before you know it it’s knocking off time and all you done is chain work. You could even liken to those “Chain Gang” teams you see in American films laying down blacktop or breaking rocks, mile after, mile, after mile… This was the same: you receive a project request, just a minute… you receive several Red flag project requests from different contacts, you acquire the resources, you confirm the plannings and you (imperatively and unquestioningly) deliver on time, by the announced and invariably unalterable delivery date and time requirement… “Project Crunching” and intensive and grass-roots!

Point #4. In a previous position I’d send T&L project requests to the providers and move on, coming back to the request for the delivery or occasionally to resolve a potential “Show-stopper”. To be honest my primary value adds were my communication skills, my reactivity, my faculty for quick thinking solution finding and administration skills, not my technical ones, and when I brought these technical skills to the table is was an extra to the service offering but they weren’t at the top of my job description. Now where I am it’s the other way round. I need all my acumen, business insight, reactivity and most definitely all my faculty for quick thinking solution finding to compliment my technical skills if I am going to take this to the next level.

Point #5. In my previous role I sometimes had to face unhappy customers with sometimes out of scope requests and assume the heat when shit happened, occasionally seeking feedback, even help, from competent providers and sometimes – just sometimes – coercing and cajoling them into going that extra mile. Today I’m on the other side of the fence and I’ve learned that not only must you, imperatively and for the sake of the service offering, accept that working in pressures situations is an everyday part of the job description, I also learned that the environment has changed, the challenges, and the pressure that comes with it, has accrued noticeably these past few years, I’ve also had to learn to modify and adapt my communication skills. Stakeholders don’t want to know where you’re coming from, they want results… precise, clean and on-time results and that’s fair enough with me, that’s what the change was supposed to bring.

Now after ninety days the question of the challenge that brought me where I am and the objective I fixed myself upon arrival are under the microscope. The Project crunching, Bloopers and resulting but relatively few escalations (given the overall number of projects managed) have to be put into a context if they are to have any sense or meaning. They are excellent learning material and stepping-stones for the future, wherever that will be, but above all the past ninety days have allowed me to acquire new skills, mainly technical, and tighten up in areas I’m now convinced cost me some interesting propositions in the past.

But to go back a few steps and the pros and cons of new jobs, Socio-professional networking and communications. As most people know and understand now communicating in a Socio-professional network requires ability and attention. Personally I admire people, though not necessarily wanting to emulate them, who reach “Influencer” status in their communications… its experience talking, and talking well!

As in any discipline you have the “Naturals”, the quick learners and the others… and yes, as someone pointed out in their blog recently, there are also a whole lot of people who simply echo the thoughts of others. Obviously, while its better to formulate your own theories that fact that people do echo the thoughts of others isn’t such a bad thing if it means that they’ve read the theory, understood where it’s coming from and debate it…

…but back to my original point. When you set up a network the Socio-professional profile you create has a very determining impact on how people see you and evaluate your potential. If you want to get something interesting out of the environment, something interesting for your career, the trick is to be savvy but objective about it. Build a strategy and communicate adeptly. There are as many schools of thought on the subject as there are potential contacts in any given network and each may be right in a given context*
* I’ve talked before in previous blogs about the people who seem to collect Socio-professional contacts as though the number of contacts alone may be a determining factor. Personally I don’t think so. I rather believe that what you get out of an environment is what you put into it (Yes I know that’s a tired worn cliché!) and that’s possibly why I’m not communicating more clearly yet on what I’m doing at the moment. I know there are people out there, 02nd or 03rd degree contacts, who are curious to see how I manage the transition and how I qualify the choice I made three months ago. People with intentions, perhaps people looking for potential and people I don’t want to disappoint, because I’ve accustomed them to better, but there are people who exploit “Faux pas” and while I wouldn’t want to disappoint the ones I wouldn’t want to fuel the fire for the others so bear with me the change is coming!

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