Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Initial Days: Observe not Intervene

During the on campus recruitment season, there were several companies that gave us some smart presentations and talked to us about the work,people and culture at their firm.There was a presentation by a leading Canadian bank where one of the person from the senior management addressed us. At the wine and cheese session later that evening, I got an opportunity to talk to him. This person is a part of the team that picks the selected few MBA students (who once they join the organization are exposed to some excellent learning grounds).He has been doing this for several years now and of course has a strong preference for Queen's MBA students ( The grads have a strong reputation in this firm.)

I asked him what he felt was the biggest mistake these freshly minted MBA grads made. He had a smile on his face and then said that the young MBA grads joining the work space are bubbling with energy. During the MBA program, they are exposed to some of the best learning models and think that once they join an organization, within a few days, they can bring a miracle at the organization.

In the first few days, these new grads can spot inefficiencies, figure out what is wrong,and have some good ideas on making units productive. But often, they make their points at the firm without understanding the work environment and the culture. There are times when they might be right but as they have made the point a bit early,there aren't enough people supporting them. Sometimes, the senior management is first looking at these fresh grads to meet the expectations before their views can be incorporated. Isn't this interesting?

I blogged about this because I read this article in Business Week which talks about something on the same lines. The article states that "At first glance, certain elements of your employer's business may make no sense to you at all. But after close inspection and some careful questioning and listening, you may find out that some of them hinge on old ideas that made sense at the time or may have been shaped by office politics. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be improved, it means you have to proceed carefully."

There are some useful tips given to folks joining a new firm. Here are a few

1. Go into consultant mode ( Observe not Intervene until asked)
2. Get the history of the company
3. Remember the snowflake rule
4. Make sure there's a problem before suggesting a fix
5. Take a supporting role
6. Find a mentor
7. Balance "brilliant solution" with supporting the team
8. As you formulate suggestions, test them out
9. Prioritize your fix-it list
10. Ask for feedback

Do check out this article and this one. Hope this helps !



At 4:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this is fine, and people learn on the ground pretty darned quick.

However an eye for detail will stand you in good stead anywhere. 'Booze Allen' is wrong; Booz Allen is right. 'Delloite' is incorrect; Deloitte is right. It is Quint not 'Qunit'; similarly Kellogg's not Kellog.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Indian Blogger said...


Thanks a lot. These links have been there for more than 2 years now, and I noticed the spelling errors only today. Thanks for letting me know.


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