How to start a new job?

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Two weeks into my new job at Huawei, I thought it would be nice to document this process, especially for those who may go through a similar mid-career transition. The last time when I joined a new workplace was more than 12 years ago when I was just out of graduate school. It was easy back then because the work was well defined and there were many senior colleagues to guide me through. This time though I am serving a role that the group has never had before and am supposed to lead rather than to be led. So far, I’ve survived fine. So here are a few tips.

No idea what to do at first? Talk to people and listen tentatively. My past two weeks were spent mainly to talk to people, e.g., team members, my boss, peers from other teams etc. On average, I spent at least 3 hours with each member of my team, first learning the project, then about themselves, then myself and my thoughts. One trick about talking to and getting to know new people is to listen with all your attention. And as I learned along the way, it is very important not to make any assumptions and not to judge too quickly.

Record, observe, and reflect. In the last two weeks, I was submerged in all kinds of information and many human interactions. This is both stimulating and chaotic, so it is especially important to record the information and reflect on them. Evernote is a god’s send and asking team members for their resume helps a little too. I also keep a daily journal and make sure to reserve quiet time for myself everyday to reflect on all the information taken in.

Follow any lead and act upon it.  With new information flowing in and after putting your mind to digest them, work items naturally emerge. Act upon any issue that emerges as trust is often built gradually and sometimes on the smallest commitments delivered. One of the first things I observed is that the team is used to impromptu communication by stopping by each other’s office at any time. This clearly would not work for me who will work remotely most of the time. So I initiated an effort to build an internal group social media w/ group website, personal blogs, wiki, forum, etc. Not only does it benefit remote members it also makes the entire team more productive as communication is open to all and sharing thoughts and work is made easier. Along the way, my colleagues also get to know me better through my personal website/blogs.

Needless to say, the past two weeks was really intense for me. But I really enjoyed it. From an individual contributor to a team lead into a vast space of technical possibilities is an exciting transition for me. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful team to work with and Iam even more excited to my next trip to China to meet w/ the team over there.


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