Your first 3 months on the Job: Theory vs. Reality

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Your first 3 months on the Job: Theory vs. Reality

Postby D.X. » Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:54 am

An interview question from either the interviewer or interviewee can be "what do you expect the from the first 3 months in the job".

And as a newbie say in transition to a job either in academia or to a new job industry one may have a theoretical expectation of what that could look like.

Certainly some hiring-managers will have an idea what that could look like as well, with respect to the candidates behavior.

The theoretical expectation is something to the tune of being in a learning phase or mode. That includes on-boarding in the form of training and having 1 on 1 meetings with varied stakeholders to persoanlly get to know them, understand their role and how you work with them. Then you get time to understand processes and understanding the broader workings of the organization while have while comfortably having the time to understand the job role and responsiblity, with clear mapping of objectives and tasks. And a key acheivement is at the the end of 3 months you're ready to run with all tools with a clear map to "start" to do the job.

Then, there is reality.
1. On your third day an urgent email comes in with need for data or report in 3 days and you're the only one available to do it. Your boss offer's support but they deliver is you and you boss is depending on your support.
2. During this time another urgent request comes in and in 2 weeks you're expected to give an update on a project you've only just inherited to another Program team. and about mid-way through the second week you're expected to review and comment on a report and fill in the missing sections.
3. Then on the 3rd week you're expected to travel to other site to attend the 2nd kick-off meeting of a project you've only just been in-formed you're the member of.
4. At the end of you're first month, your team-mate quits for another job and you are now responsible for a number of their task too.
5. You start your second month an you have many task on the your plate, you have not mapped any objectives - your role is not clear defined other than you're leading a few project and now standing member on number of task-forces, project teams, and programs.
6. As far as those 1:1 meetings to personally know people....Nope. You've met this folks in a project meeting where you're first interaction is addressing one of their questions and your first 5 minute conversation is name exchage, objective dicussion on task at hand and next steps with a promise to have a more prolonged meeting to get to know you..which ...will probably not happen unless you push through. Next thing you know, you're working with people but you know nothing about them..that's the reality i think these days.

The this was my most recent experience - i am 4 months in to my new job so with minumal time to learn my products, data, learn who people are, I am delviering, pushing and swimming the nose above water. I'm faking it till I make it.

So the theory is a nice period of learn and watch to the reality is, learn by crash-course and putting out fires, you crash and burn OR you swim with nose above water to win.

My very first job was crash and burn. Maybe i didn't know how to ask for help.

But my next job. well by virtue of the job a 3 month learning and train period consistent with the theoretical start.

The rest of company's i've been in has been "running start" just as i"ve described. That's why i can do it now swiming, nose above water. in the past i probably was flapping in the water a bit, but now..slow and steady, bring it on.

So leads me to the interview question. Do you answer with theorethical answer as I described - or do you use the reality answer? My answer..both. Acknowledge the theory but it's ok to discuss reality. You could give examples or if not at least you're acknowleding a potential reality.

I also think these days this is what's driving hiring managers who looking to hire folks ready to run. Training..what training? do the job..that's the training.

So, What have been your first 3 month experiences? Thoughts on my this post, do share!


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Re: Your first 3 months on the Job: Theory vs. Reality

Postby Dave Jensen » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:26 pm

Great post, DX. I think you are taking the idea proposed in another thread and taking it in a logical direction. What is it that happens early on in a job, and how can managers ensure they hire people who have the stick-to-it ability to hang in there while all this stuff happens around them?

I think it would be refreshing, personally, to have people interview who actually admitted that while the 90 day plan you describe would be ideal, it may be impacted by just plain old life inside the company. As an interviewer, I really don't know what "else" can happen, what urgent stuff can be thrown in my lap, and so leaving it a bit open for these events is a good plan. And admitting that as organized as we are, there's always going to be "stuff" that happens.

"Failure is a bruise -- not a tattoo." -- Jon Sinclair
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Re: Your first 3 months on the Job: Theory vs. Reality

Postby Craig J » Thu Jul 12, 2018 2:36 pm

DX - This is an extremely funny and terrifyingly accurate picture of what I've seen from people starting a new job in biotech (you must work at my company because that's how it is for every hire!). I'm glad you've figured out how to handle it, because it's definitely a skill. I'd say the theory is more relevant to entry/lower-level positions or academic-type groups. But anyone in a decision-making role in industry will be expected to make decisions or at least ask assisting questions to figure things out within the first month. I really like the idea of using this as an interview question and would be extremely curious to see how many people answer with theory vs reality. Could be a good way to isolate who will be able to handle the pace and priorities in a company. I'll definitely be adding it to my arsenal of questions.

When I was hired to an associate-level position the employee who was supposed to train me was fired on my third day, so I had no choice but to learn by doing. Luckily, I had a lot of support and in general other people in a company want you to succeed. Learning your job by doing it is much easier when you use those people around you as a resource, so I would highly recommend to others that you shouldn't be afraid to ask questions... lots and lots of questions.

Good luck with the new job, DX.

Craig J
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Re: Your first 3 months on the Job: Theory vs. Reality

Postby D.X. » Wed Jul 18, 2018 2:29 am

Hi Craig J,

Yeah maybe we do! Another issue that could be relevant but more political is how do to manage if they say in 3 months no longer have the boss who hired them! Which in my new job now, my boss who hired me is already "moved-on".

I was smirking because someone was telling me that they had 10 bosses in 6 years, because in my last company I had 10 bosses in less than 4 years.. So that's another theory vs. reality: that your boss is long term!

I think academics don't know or realize that in the industry world our supervisor also have their development plans as well, to include private out of company agendas...they can also fall out of political that's another issue to consider related to this post is ability to manage change.

And more and more in the context of "transformational changes" that many companies are going through be it a new executive board coming in place, a cost cutting re-organization, a M&A, boss-leaving, ambiguity in roles and functions, political changes of powers, etc etc. ...getting down to how flexible the candidate is!

Personally i've florished i these environments, alot of opportunites came my way experience wise while....others floundered. So i do think alot of this comes down to change management response as well.

These days the its pretty rough at least where i sit so sometimes i envy those still in the academic world who have no clue to the realities awaiting them - nearly wish i could go back to that innocence.

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