When I just joined a company one of the advice I got is: Never wipe the board in the meeting rooms.
I was shocked. Do you mean I should just stand up and walk out of the room and leave it to the others?
The point is， I need to set the tone: I am the team leader and decision-maker, not the assistant who runs errands. This is especially important for Asian women in management roles in corporate America.
Here are the three things I learned on how to launch yourself in a new job:
1. Set the tone
It is all about what you do and not do in the first month, when everyone tests your boundaries:
Do you respond to emails on weekends? Do you agree when people ask you for favors or give tight deadlines?
Whatever you do set the tone for yourself, as well as their expectations for you later on.
Right before I started at Columbia business school, I got a gift from a friend, a book called “Nice Girl Don’t Get The Corner Office”.
I am grateful because I do need an honest and straightforward message, like that book title to tell me: there is no reward system for being a nice girl in the business.
The book gives examples of unconscious mistakes that women make that sabotage their careers, such as apologizing, letting people waste your time, etc.
I wasn’t totally convinced of its messages, until I hear this story from my classmate.
My classmate worked for McKinsey after graduation in Seoul. Through hard work and luck, she transferred to New York office. With her work ethic and talent, I never thought she’d had any issues.
A month after her transfer, her manager sat down with her to point out a mistake she made:
“You should stop asking our clients if you can grab them a coffee from Starbucks”.
That was her mistake.
Because McKinsey sees a consultant as a peer to the client, a professional. But she acted like an assistant who runs errands and grabs coffee for clients.
Since then I realized that book was serious.
2. Manage up
Manage people’s expectations is part of your job. Leadership does not only mean “You need to do it because I’m your boss”.
True leadership means to influence those who don’t report to you, even your boss.
When I just joined a company, I asked my counterpart whether our boss expects people to reply to her emails on weekends or at midnight.
My colleague said: “I never respond to emails on weekends nor after 6 PM. When our new boss joined our team, I don’t want to give her that expectation. And I think you should do the same“.
The first month your new boss comes on board is also the time that you set the tone.
3. Show resilience
The key advantage and disadvantages of capitalism are that: if you’re not performing you’re out the door. Many companies have review systems like PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) especially in tech companies like Amazon, or Facebook.
What if you’re put on the PIP plan and may get hired if you don’t improve?
It is especially stressful for employees on a H1 visa. PIP plan means you’re going to return to your country and face awkward questions like: Why do you leave America?
A woman in google was told that she was not a fit for the role. She could either choose to resign or find another role.
She took a three-month sabbatical leave and wrote a book about it.
This is how you show strength. When someone pushes you down the hill, you take gorgeous pictures on your way down and post them on Instagram.
The system allows companies to lay off people whenever they need to. But on the flipside，it allows companies to hire whenever they need to. Rather than blame the system, use the system.
Hey, I’m Tess, an entrepreneur, and owner of Delicate Revolt, where I share 1. Lessons learned by an entrepreneur; 2. How to achieve energy, efficiency, and style on business travels. Welcome to the Revolt!
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