Posted on April 2016 By Gillmore Gutura
Gillmore is a Business Integration Analyst with Accenture, Melbourne. He completed a Bachelors in Computer Science and Software Development and is a recent Masters Graduate in Enterprise Resource Planning Systems and Information Systems with a focus on SAP.
It’s hard to believe that it has been 6 months already since taking on my new role! They say time flies when you are having fun- I think time flies when you are learning hard because there isn’t enough time in the day to absorb all the information coming at you from all directions! It has been an overwhelming yet tremendously rewarding experience, a wealth of knowledge, the likes of which you can only attain ‘on the job’ and with empowering team members and colleagues backing you as you navigate the new role.
I compiled a list of the essential insights I have learnt first-hand from my first project so far and here’s hoping the list keeps growing through collaboration from all who read this.
Question: What would you add to this list?
“Fail to plan, plan to fail” – Winston Churchill
1) Prioritize and Plan Learn to identify and rank tasks and responsibilities for the day, week and month if necessary. One of my mentors recommended using the ‘Eisenhower Box’- technique that grids tasks according to their urgency and importance. I learnt that it is a critical skill to differentiate between the important vs the urgent.
2) Keep it in writing Any correspondence related to the project (confirmation e-mails, requests, status reports etc.), be it a workshop or a simple clarification from a stakeholder, always have it in writing. Always handy to refer back to.
3) Be meticulous and Keep your house in order All other responsibilities like submitting accurate time sheets in a timely manner, completing mandatory training in the prescribed time frame, maintaining a clean desk policy, accepting meeting requests or simple punctuality needs to be spot on. Make sure your e-mail correspondence is well organized; there will come a time when you need to retrieve an e-mail from last month’s workshop and it pays to have all these properly catalogued. Paying attention to detail is an important trait, whether it is for presentations, reports, punctuation, grammar or formatting. This is a great way to create value, build your credibility and ultimately your brand and develop trust with your colleagues. Make it your mission to be the go-to person for a certain thing in the project. Geoffrey Moore, an organizational theorist, proposed a way of thinking – “core vs context”; core, in this case, is what sets you apart as a team member and the context is what at a minimum you are expected to do to stay relevant. Excelling in the context tasks will not make you stand out but failure to complete them will significantly de-rail your growth.
4) Document What you’re learning, what you are doing in your new role as you go. In my case, I maintain a project diary to capture what I have undertaken in the project or any positive feedback that I may have received. A very good way to update your resume and good reference point for performance / feedback conversations with your manager and tracking your progress and growth on a personal level.
5) Prepare the night before Have a ‘work to go’ list where you note down all the items you need for the next day. This ensures a stress- free start to the day as you are assured in your rush, you won’t forget anything. You don’t want to be that person that forgets their laptop charger or any other essentials at your new job!
“The art of Communication is the language of leadership” – James Hume
1) Understand what is expected of you from the onset Management of expectations is critically important. It is always a good idea to sit down with your project manager and understand what is required of you in the role. Also, during the project, when necessary, clarify instructions and playback what you have been asked to do just to be sure. I found it to be extremely beneficial to book and set aside time in my manager’s calendar under the ‘guise’ of exchanging notes as this also gave me a great opportunity to get helpful tips and guidance with my delegated tasks . Never miss an opportunity to learn more!
2) Inform It is important to be an effective communicator. Keep your manager informed of you day’s/week’s objectives in case there are tasks that they may feel you should focus on instead. Another point to make is that pro-active communication is key: rather than waiting to be asked on a status of tasks given, keep your manager in the loop.
3) Ask questions Well thought of ones of course! The kind that warrant the “that’s a good question” response. This shows you have put a lot of thought and research to the question.
“To Infinity and Beyond!”- Buzz Lightyear
1) Get to know the Industry Immerse yourself in the role and anything to do with the industry (Products, key players, mergers, new technologies, and new personnel). Information is power and this is a great ice-breaker with the client or your new colleagues.
2) Go off the books Go over and beyond the call of duty. An example here is being part of a testing team and tasked to test 5 conditions. In this case, have your own ‘off the books’ list and test all the possible scenarios that come to mind to rigorously test the system. Chances are that discovering these possible scenarios will save on defect resolution for the project. This shows foresight and pro-activity and shows you as a value creator.
3) Make the deep end your home Embrace the unfamiliarity of it all, be flexible and malleable enough to adapt to different roles. As they say, get comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace it!
4) Stay busy Complacency is the enemy: read, research, and look for more tasks to help your teammates or to improve your knowledge. Training opportunities and self-learning are crucial for self-development.
“An extraordinary career is the result of an extraordinary mindset”:
1) Be visible! Network – with both the client and your colleagues. At the very minimum, do not have your lunch alone! Maintain a good rapport with the client as it is always handy when you need help relating to their expertise, and there will come a time when you do. Connect on LinkedIn – It is amazing how forthcoming people are after taking the initiative to connect with them or addressing them by name. Get involved in any opportunities to promote yourself and develop your personal brand in the company- blogs, community events, and outreach programs etc.
2) Stand by your work Take ownership of your work and be pro-active and anticipate issues and risks in their infancy. It is also very important to admit mistakes as they happen. Making a mistake might be unpleasant, but it is a learning opportunity that a lot could be gained from.
3) Understanding the concept This serves better than the memory of it. “If my memory serves me right” already suggests uncertainty. Have the ability to distinguish what you need to take note of and what you need to understand first. A lot of times you take notes while a concept is being explained to you, and you end up with words that sort of made sense at the time, but not anymore. You’ll end up asking for further clarification, and in a high pace environment, that is not ideal. A manager of mine always said “You don’t need a note book for what I am about to explain – if you understand and know how it’s done, you won’t forget”.
4) Actively seek feedback and accept it. Gaining insights from different perspectives is crucial for growth and promotes open-mindedness.
5) Mentorship It is always good to have a good range of mentors as you kick-start your career or new role. Mentors come in different informal capacities and it does not have to be a formal process of engaging someone to be your mentor. In my opinion, any one that can draw on their personal experiences to offer you guidance, help your career progression or overcome a hurdle in your job is playing the mentorship role.
6) #Flex for life Balance is key. Look into flexible working arrangements with your project and in all aspects of life and work, alignment is key. In my example, I am an avid football (soccer) fan and play indoor soccer every Monday. Communicating my passions to my project colleagues made the schedule adjustment on the Mondays easy and kept me well rounded and ultimately kept my mind healthy.