Dream Job-What to find out at your first meeting with your manager

265/365: Ball Pit Conference Room (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/4623510796/)

265/365: Ball Pit Conference Room (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/4623510796/) by if winter ends (http://www NULL.flickr NULL.com/photos/if_winter_ends/)

Dream jobs start off with meeting your manager. After the obligatory introductions, the first meeting with your new boss on your dream job is a little scary. You don’t know each other that well leading to some apprehension (http://www NULL.foxandthefirefly NULL.com/component/content/article/3-health-articles/15). You don’t feel like sounding dumb with the questions you ask and your new manager can feel overwhelmed by all the information to present.

How do your start your dream job off right?

Begin with your department

You were hired to do a specific job in the manager’s area, so the first area of focus needs to be understanding what your group does, what other departments it interacts with and how it is measured.

Start with the functions in the department; what is the work the entire group does, not just what you are supposed to do. Listen for all the interactions you will have with others on your team to get your work done. Listen for how the department is measured as it is your first clue as to how well the business can measure progress. Like your progress, for example.

Don’t worry too much about the people in your group just yet, although they will come up (“John takes care of all the reporting for us….”). Instead, focus on the functions performed in the department and how they fit together. Work on what the work flows are within your group. Not everyone will interact with everyone else, but you should clearly see why the organization was put together as it was.

The rest of the company organization

From your group, move on to how your department interacts with all the other areas on the organization chart. If you are in a Fortune 500 company, you could very well only interact within a single company division. Or, in a smaller company, you could interact with everyone in the company (http://abcbusinesssuccessblog NULL.businessconsultingabc NULL.com/2010/05/24/common-family-business-issues-and-conflicts/).

The key is to functionally understand what organizations provide work input to your group, what your team does with the input, and then where your work output is sent (http://corporatedeathspiral NULL.blogspot NULL.com/2010/05/satisfying-internal-customers-its-still NULL.html) once completed.

You need to get the functional work flow right

A key to successfully building your skills in your dream job is to understand how the work flows. This work flow gives you a greater context about the work you do and how your work impacts others. Without understanding these relationships, you’ll always be ignoring some important input to your work, ticking your coworkers off for not getting what they need from you completed and have customers wonder why you were picked for this dream job in the first place.

Right off the bat, have your manager work with you on understanding the organizations you work with. And you know what? Not only will it help your understanding of your new work flow, it will also give you the first look at what your manager knows about your work and how the department provides value to the company.

Wouldn’t you want to know how your department adds value to the company? Yeah, me too.

Dream Jobs and Chaos-How to Cope

One my beta testers for the book loved all of the advice in the book–but then had an incredibly difficult time to implement what was in the book because the dream job turned out to be a chaotic nightmare (http://www NULL.curemyanxiety NULL.com/Job-Anxiety-and-Work-Stress NULL.htm). Still a great job, but nothing you would expect out of a job was ready.

Her manager wasn’t ready with goals; he didn’t know what they were yet because the function was new in the company. She had a tough time figuring out who the real customers were of her work, much less identifying stakeholders. And the people in her work flow were also new and not much in regards to process was up and running.

And even though I suggest taking quite a long time for a review after the first week (it can take up to six hours…), she was understandably totally wiped out after the first week to even think about doing a review.

In other words, work was chaos.

Chaos makes the book even more important

What does chaos really mean? Everything in motion, nothing nailed down, what you think you know isn’t really what you know and what you know changes all the time. There is nothing to anchor you (http://ask NULL.metafilter NULL.com/150182/New-job-anxiety) or to ground you in your work.

Even if you enter this type of environment in your new job, you can still establish the structure you need to anchor you in your work despite the chaos around you. Eventually, you need to nail down your goals from your manager, learn the strengths and weaknesses of your team, figure out who the stakeholders are and what you need to deliver to your customer.

Those needs don’t go away just because the place is nuts (http://www NULL.trumpuniversity NULL.com/blog/post/2005/12/do-you-work-for-a-difficult-boss NULL.cfm).

But you can take all of that swirling around you and start to put the information you get into the categories you need to complete that the book provides.

Eliminate chaos through identifying what you do and don’t know

The example I use in the book about what you need to pay attention to is this: you don’t pay any attention to electricity. Unless when you go use something that needs power, the electricity doesn’t work. Now your entire day is filled with what to do until the electricity comes back on. And until it comes back on, you can’t really move forward.

Your job is like that too. Until you nail down what you know and how to prioritize it in the new job, everything is important. If you don’t know enough about something presented to you — like everything on your new job — then you don’t know what lurks behind the request. You don’t know if you agree to something that it really means what you agreed to plus a whole lot more that the culture, which you don’t yet know, expects you to do.

Hidden expectations coupled with the inability to prioritize anything leads to one thing: stress. And over time, people will leave (http://findarticles NULL.com/p/articles/mi_m3495/is_5_50/ai_n13721406/).

So the key to eliminating chaos and stress in your work is to nail down what you think you know about the job and turn that into electricity: this works, let’s move on to the next thing.

The importance of the weekly review

In a new job, the way you nail down what you know and what you still need to find out is done through reviewing your work. You may not have enough time or energy to do a complete review as outlined in the book, but any review time on the bigger topics or even using the same amount of time on a single topic will relieve a great amount of stress.

Your start to build the blocks of what you are pretty sure you know about the job so you can put that into its proper place in your priorities and move on to the next.

Turn the dream job chaos into structure

All jobs have the common components outlined in the book. The rest is focus, timing and review. Just because your manager doesn’t know what goals to give you yet doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about your goals. You do, because the prioritize and focus your work.

Use the book to turn the chaos of your dream job into structure. Hey, you at least might as well start building the job out right. What’s that saying? If you can keep your head while others all around you are losing theirs…