Welcome to Jmore’s newest blog on all things regarding the workplace. This blog is brought to you by the Career Coaches at the Jewish Community Services Career Center. Readers will be presented with a variety of perspectives on how to conduct oneself in the workplace as well as job search dynamics from coaches who have seen it all.
Q: I have been at my new job for three months, and I love it – except I see all kinds of things we could do differently. Based on my previous work experience, I feel I just know the right steps to change things. I’m dying to go up the chain and lay out a solution for every problem I see. Will that make me seem like a go-getter invested in the company’s success or a troublemaker?
A. Not to sound too Zen, but you are asking this question because you already know the answer. After three months, if you start trumpeting solutions, you won’t just sound like a troublemaker but an uninformed, overstepping and overly critical troublemaker.
The good news is you were probably hired because you conveyed energy and optimism in your interview. Your hiring manager might have thought, “Now that’s the kind of creative thinking I’m looking for. It’s going to be great to have some new blood in here.” You picked up on your manager’s excitement and can’t be faulted for assuming that if you were hired for those qualities, the company is ready to put them to use. You are hesitating on moving forward because something is telling you that they aren’t ready just yet.
So how do you effect change? Very, very slowly – even if your company culture is healthy enough to embrace change. Remember, you just got there and don’t know everything.
Educate yourself on how and why decisions were made in the past. Take the time to build trust with your manager. Do the job you were hired for flawlessly. If you can perform a relatively small task in a different way and it’s successful, that’s a good building block for making a future suggestion that takes task-doing in another direction. Be ready to be philosophical when your improvement ideas are rejected, and strategic about if and when you want to reintroduce them.
Q: I recently had a great job interview, and for the next step the hiring manager asked me to review the company website and send over suggestions to make it better. I want the job so I’m prepared to be thorough and constructive in my response. But what if the company just takes my ideas and doesn’t hire me? Should I hold back on my suggestions?
A: First, a company that steals ideas and won’t hire the person who gave those ideas is not a place you want to work. Second, of course you want to do well in this next interview step. And you can by giving ideas with a little bit of restraint and a lot of dialogue.
Show your knowledge in the questions you ask, not just the solutions you present. For example, if you ask what your interviewer thinks is problematic about the website, you can present a plan for auditing it. Or probe for information about the audience the company is trying to reach and comment about how other sites you have researched made changes to reach their target audience.
Let your interviewer know how you think and problem-solve, give as many specifics as you are comfortable sharing, but convey that you couldn’t possibly recommend anything meaningful without living and breathing as a company employee.
Sherri Sacks is a Career Coach for the JCS Career Center.
The JCS Career Center offers comprehensive employment services to help job seekers of all abilities and skill levels find and maintain employment or change their career. Services include career coaching, career assessments, resumes, interview preparation and connections to employers who are hiring. For information, call 410-466-9200 or visit jcsbaltimore.org.
Top photo by Jesús Corrius, Flickr
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