Saw an interesting blog post from someone in a new job unsure how to react to a developer's comments. I'm curious to see how other people respond to the situation he presents. There are three comments so far, all with quite different approaches.

Perhaps because I've recently accepted a new job offer myself, I found myself focusing on the "new job" aspect of his post, more than the "defend your work to a developer" part. I'm thinking about how I'll deal with being the New Kid next month (and also the first tester on board), and thinking back to when I joined my current organisation.

My reply was that I'd go around for a chat with the developer. I'm going to end up working with this programmer during my time here. Time to introduce myself. What I didn't expand on in my comment, was that if I was new to the organisation, as well as meeting a new colleague, this is also a great opportunity to learn more about the company: how does this company work? How do people work together? Are there any longstanding difficulties between departments/individuals that I might want to be aware of, so that I understand why people seem to be reacting a little strangely to innocuous comments I make? How do you get things done? I'll be listening and watching very carefully for any clues to how the organisation tends to work in practice. I'd probably follow up by chatting to my boss, and colleagues.

It occurred to me though that this is very much a Big Company assumption - in a smaller company, or in one that was organised differently, I'd probably already have met the guy. Makes me wonder what other Big Company assumptions I might be making.

So - last time you joined a new company, how did you deal with being the New Kid? What do you look out for? Was it a big company, or a small company? When you say big/small, what does that mean to you?

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Comment by Parimala Hariprasad on July 5, 2010 at 9:47
Each time I started with a new job, I faced a lot of anxiety for many things. New place, new project, new people, new teams and new manager :).

The first thing I usually do is to have a 1:1 with the reporting manager about my roles and responsibilities. I also explicitly ask if there are immediate expectations from me in the project I'll be working on.

I also try and know about the teams and sub-teams I'll be involved with (though I don't remember their names if I remember their faces or vice-versa. That is where access cards or name boards help!) As a person who strongly believes in team work and working together, I study the team I'll be working with for the next few weeks.

I consider a company big or small in terms of the number of employees. I moved from a very large company to a small and medium business company and eventually to a 300 people startup. The journey has been amazing. At the big company, there was a luxury with people. Everyone had well defined roles and responsibilities and you were never expected to perform over your line of work. If you did and you did well, then you would be an outstanding employee. I would say “not so hectic”.

In smaller startups, projects are time pressed, people are fewer, deadlines are stringent and you have to go out of your role to look into different aspects of building the product, not just testing it.
To quote a simple example, at the big company, everything would be setup for me. I just had to hit a URL and test a large CRM suite for years – same product, same module, same features and several bug fixes. At the smaller company, I got involved in different aspects of SDLC starting from feasibility study phase till the testing phase. I was well informed about the product at different stages which helps me make informed decisions about the way I test. This is just my experience. Might vary from person to person. At a personal level, I would prefer working for smaller companies more challenging. Though work gets very hectic, I get to dig deeper into products unlike in larger companies where accessing code requires approvals from CTOs at times.

Parimala Shankaraiah
Comment by Anna Baik on June 29, 2010 at 20:47
I guess that's the benefit of a small company, fewer new names to remember! :)

My boss did one really great thing when I arrived in my current company - he had booked me in for 1:1 meetings with one person (usually the team manager) from each team that the test team worked with.  I met up with each person separately, and they told me about themselves and their team, their current frustrations and their plans and hopes for things they wanted to fix (I particularly liked how they all had a long long list of stuff they wanted to fix, but also a lot of confidence that they could fix it), and I talked a little about myself and how I'd come to join the company and got to ask about how their team fit into the big picture, how they worked with other teams, and especially how they tended to work with the test team and what sort of information I could help them with. Given that all those teams probably added up to about 150 people, this was a really great introduction and it would have been hard for me to get such a good picture so quickly otherwise.
Comment by Markus Gärtner on June 28, 2010 at 6:19
Congrats on your new position, Anna.

So far, I haven't made many expertise with being the new kid. I joined my current company four years back, and getting to know all these new names was very hard at first. Over time you get used to the names you need to deal with regularly.

Thinking that the company is big, will probably make the company big for you - whatever this might mean. We operate in multiple countries all over the world and have 500 employees, which is big compared to other IT companies. Until then I had worked for smaller companies, though this was not in IT. Personally, I prefer small teams, as they are way more easier to oversee.

So, how did I behave? I did what I could do best: I observed. I went with other colleagues to breakfast, and watched their discussions there. I watched the atmosphere in the company, I watched how people collaborated. Over time I build a picture of who could work well with another, and who might not. This helped me to understand the culture, and to understand what was expected from me.


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