When you are coming to a new company/team, you want to learn about it.
Usually, you wish to do it quickly because there is (always) pressure to start a be ‘productive.’
There are many cases when the opposite is better for the long term.
You want to take your time and learn more about the WHY without giving your biases a place to run. However, reality forces us to push and try to make things faster/better.
Here is a plan that worked for me in the past.
Talk with everyone on the team/project/cross-function team and ask for 30 minutes with them.
In many cases, we are talking about 40-50 people, so it will take you a couple of weeks to accomplish it. But it’s worth it.
In that meeting, you aren’t talking.
You are asking about
- Their role in the company/team
- What do they like the most about their job?
- What they don’t like
- The biggest problem they are solving right now
- One thing they wish they could change
- One thing they are proud of
- And anything else they want to share
The simple plan
- Twenty-five minutes: ask them to tell you everything they think you should know.
Always stop them from asking about things you don’t understand.
If they covered ‘everything’ in ~10 minutes, you could ask them about ‘things they would want to know if they were in your shoes.
- Next 3 minutes: ask about the most significant challenges the team has right now.
- Final 2 minutes: ask who else you should talk to. Focus on 3-5 names.
At the end of this process, you should have a much better understanding of how your company works, what they are facing, and what they need help with.
Good luck, and be strong.