So it’s been about 30 days since I started working here at Cummins and so far it has been a wonderful experience. Today I’m writing from Des Moines, Iowa visiting Cummins Central Power , one of Cummins Distributors. I feel fully immersed in my job, and although I’m still a newbie, I am contributing. The book The First 90 Days although very good, almost seems written for a high executive and not for a newly minted MBA Graduate, but there are a few things that have shaped my experience in the past 30 days.
Companies are the result of their history, not only the corporate history, but the interactions between employees. Things are done for a reason, albeit the original reason might have been forgotten, but a reason none the less. Last year I read the history of Cummins in two book, The Engine that Could and Red, Black and Global. Both of these books provided enough history to understand the many intricacies of the company. There is a reason for the checks and balances in place at the company. There is a reason that we are overly cautious about our spending. The more you know, the easier is to understand the reasoning behind many of the policies and procedures.
Hit the Ground Running
Knowing that you have to go from 0-60, make sure you are running as fast as you can when you hit your first day. It probably will be hard the first days due to delays on computers, access, and training; so make the most of those days getting everything set up: benefits, direct deposit, insurance, badge, etc. Read as many documents as you can, make sure you find out where all the historic documents are located and just dive in. Meet one-on-one with everyone in your team, your stakeholders, your customers, and everyone you will be interacting with. They need to know you, understand what you’ll be doing, and how you are helping them. I’ve met everyone I’m involved with, even other people that have my same responsibilities in other business units; getting their expert opinion and tips of the trade. Now I have a good network that I can tap on the shoulder to move projects along.
You will likely have a meeting with your boss to tell you what he expects of you, and to find out about your expectations. So what are you going to say? This is where you need a learning agenda, the things you want to learn short-term and long-term. I knew that I should have more project management learning, so I asked my boss about a 2 day course that was offered in the company; I brought the days and why I wanted to attend. I also told him that I was very excited for the Six Sigma training that is part of the company and that I wanted to be involved with that. In some companies this might be hard, but focus on precise things you want to learn.
Secure Early Wins
Finally, look for opportunities to shine. Know what those wins will be, it might take a week or two to figure what an early win will be and then go get it. I wanted to create an easier way to get people involved in our project, so I told my boss that I wanted to create a page that had all the content needed to “hit the ground running.” I have all the information needed now, and I have posted that information in an internal webpage for out team. A very simple win, but shows my boss that I can see an opportunity and complete the task; he has already given me bigger projects that I can tackle.