You are new on the job and you want to ensure your success. You are taking notes, asking insightful questions and listening carefully in all the meetings. With each passing day you are growing more comfortable and competent with your new responsibilities. It is exciting to be making progress.
The big question is when and how do you find your voice? When do you start to offer your insights and suggestions in meetings? The answer most likely is “it depends.”
- Start by listening– No one in the meeting appreciates the “new kid on the block” coming in and dominating the meeting with how something similar was done in a prior company. Don’ t assume you know all the answers until you listen to understand the true problem and what solutions have already been tested. Demonstrate your commitment to success by listening to learn the organization.
- Observe meeting protocol – Different companies have different meeting styles and philosophies. There may be significant differences depending on who is leading the meeting so you need to be a keen observer. Does the level of participation in the meeting vary by the level of attendees? Are there meetings where you only speak if you are formally listed on the agenda? Are there expectations that you must be a certain level or above to speak in the meeting? Is there an open sharing of ideas?
- Take Notes – Takes notes during the meeting. It shows your level of engagement, It also provides valuable information for future reference. When they are discussing something you don’t understand it is easy to jot down questions to ask your manager later. Because you are already taking notes it not obvious that you are capturing questions.
- Sanity Check Your Observations with your Manager – Share what you have observed about participation in meeting and ask for confirmation or clarification.
- Test an Idea with Your Manager – If an idea comes to you during a meeting, make a note of it. Discuss with your manager and ask if it would be appropriate to share such ideas in future meetings.
- Share with Confidence – When you are ready, share your ideas with confidence. Do not be timid. Identify the problem and offer a possible solution. Do not be arrogant. Demonstrate that you wish to be part of the solution.
As I am wrapping up visits with the students currently out on corporate residency and their managers, the most common feedback this year has been helping the students find their voice at the table once they’ve settled in on the job. If they can hone this skill while on residency it will serve them well throughout their careers.