023 – Learning to Swim: Getting oriented in a new organization without going under
Getting started in a new organization, new customer, or new parts of your current org can be tough, especially since managing a project usually means you need to navigate all those waters like a pro – out of the gate. But how do you do that? How do you “get to know” the organization quickly and effectively so you can get the show on the road?
This episode we talk with a Change Management specialist, Dilerjit Oberoi, who will help us learn to “swim” in a new organization – or to new parts of your current organization. No need to ‘go under’ when you have advice from a great expert like Dilerjit!
About our great guest, Dilerjit Oberoi:
Dilerjit Oberoi works for DPDHL IT Services in Prague, Czech Republic. He helps to articulate mid-long term roadmap for the organization, oversees projects to deliver on strategic priorities and does a whole bunch of other activities related to Service Excellence. He has experience in managing complex projects and working together with a diverse group of people from all around the world. He has an MBA from Warwick University in the UK and is currently learning the art of simple communication from his 3 year old daughter.
Memorable quotes shared by Diler:
“Tell your team, ‘you worry about the product, and I’ll worry about the politics'”
Work more efficiently with the acronym ESA!
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Quotable Quote from Dilerjit Oberoi: It is important that your team knows what your why is and how you define success.
About Dilerjit Oberoi [1:15]
Dilerjit Oberoi works for DPDHL IT Services in Prague, Czech Republic. He helps to articulate mid-long term roadmap for the organization, oversees projects to deliver on strategic priorities, and does a whole bunch of other activities related to Service Excellence. He has experience in managing complex projects and working together with a diverse group of people from all around the world. He has an MBA from Warwick University in the UK, and is currently learning the art of simple communication from his 3-year-old daughter.
Diler’s current role at DHL [2:06]
Diler’s role is on Strategy and Planning. He is part of a small team responsible for running all services that involve infrastructure and business application. He looks after DHL’s strategies to see what they need to do to improve their services and for the business to remain competitive.
Diler’s journey to his role [2:53]
Diler started at the Global Coordination center of DHL headquartered in Brussels. He was part of the HR department as Technical Analyst where he held different roles which included project management. He also worked with a team responsible in evolving DHL’s services. Seeing the organization from a different angle and having a network prepared him for his role in Strategy and Planning.
Diler when he’s not working [3:45]
If not working, Diler plays with his 3 and a half-year-old daughter.
Most Valuable Lesson Diler Learned the Hard Way – Knowing the Why [4:22]
Diler thought Project Management was liberating because he need not think of the Why. As a PM manager who gives the mandate and has cost constraints, he assumed that he only needed to focus on delivering the project. He eventually realized the importance of knowing the Why. Not knowing why you’re doing what you’re doing will lead you to make wrong decisions.
Five Points You Need to Learn to Swim in a Big Organization [6:59]
1. Don’t jump straight into the project [7:04]
Take a step back and understand the business. Spend time in knowing the people, understanding the company’s culture, their mission, and purpose. Treat it as if you’ll work with the company for a long time. Understanding the context of the project will make you more effective. In learning the organization, you’ll understand why it’s doing what it’s doing, its purpose, what’s unique about it and its values. And if you can relate to these things, you’ll enjoy your job.
How do I understand the business?
- Research the organization by reading information from the internet.
- Talk to people; ask them what they do, who makes the decision in the company, how they see their job, etc. By allowing them to talk about their work, you’ll have an idea about their culture and process. You’ll figure out if the company is process oriented and if it gives its people the freedom to make decisions.
2. Answer the Why [14:44]
Understand why you’re doing the project, why the company needs it, and why they hired you to do it. To get the answers to these questions, you’ll need to talk to the right people, for example, your sponsor, the people working in your team, or the customers.
How do I better understand the big picture?
Look how the organization expresses their strategy; this will show you the things important to the organization. Then, ask questions to the right stakeholders. Begin by writing their names, their positions, their outlooks towards you (supportive or neutral), and how you’re going to engage or communicate with them. This will be your guide when you approach them.
3. Talk to People [25:48]
As a project manager, one of your main responsibilities is to maintain a good relationships with your stakeholders. Understand what is going on in the company. To do this, you will need to talk to people.
Tips on how to make sure you’re effectively talking to people:
Don’t think about the strict outcomes you want to get out of the meeting. Instead, think about who you want to be talking to. Understand that it’s important for you to have alignment with people, share information with them, and have a common understanding of your goal. Find out who you need to talk to, and make sure to have a constant communication with them.
4. Use the Tools Properly [32:33]:
There is a lot of bureaucracy you need to deal with, especially if there are many processes and you want to have control over what’s happening. But there are instances when you have a lot of admin work, and it becomes easy to think that it is your job. Make sure you automate as much as possible, and use the right tools to free yourself from these tasks so you could focus on what you should be doing. Remember, you’re a project manager, and not an admin.
How to be an efficient Project Manager
- Eliminate: Just because someone asks you to do an admin doesn’t mean you have to do it. Ask first why you need to do it.
- Standardize: If you really need to do the admin, don’t do it more than once and do them all the same way. Then, tell everyone where the information is so they know how to do it next time, and you are not wasting your time.
- Automate: Think of how you can use the tools available to you so you don’t have to do things manually.
After these three, find someone who is competent and who you can trust to do it consistently, then delegate.
5. Be prepared for things to change [36:55]:
You have to try and be ready to fail. You won’t be able to figure out in advance how people will respond to your product. Part of the process will require you to put it out on the market, get feedback, and make improvements, and you will most likely need to make several alterations to see if it will work. You cannot just sit there and plan or guess at what is going to happen. This is similar to the agile approach. If you know what you want to do, go out there and put it into action. If just you wait for the right technology to mature, your competitors will be way ahead of you. You have to get ahead of them and try. You will fail, but at the same time, you will learn.
A successful outcome doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to implement what you planned. Success is finding the answer to what you planned to explore. Knowing if it works or not, learning from it, and figuring out what you want to do next is hugely beneficial to success.
Implementing change is okay, as long as you’re clear why you’re doing it. Be ready to encourage just in case the plan fails.
How to manage change with the stakeholders in your team
Define the success criteria and the why behind the change, and make sure your team agrees. To make the process simple, you can write down what you think, and then ask for feedback from the stakeholders.
You Know You’re in Trouble If… [46:03]
- You can’t explain to your 3 and a half-year-old what your organization is doing
- You’re not excited with the organization you’re working for
- You can’t explain your Why
- You’re not spending enough time talking to people
- You’re spending more than 10% of your time doing admin
- You find yourself saying “We’re doing this because that’s the plan.”