Project Management

Rookie Rules

Bob Weinstein is a journalist who covers technology, project management, the workplace and career development.

Most project managers learn on the job. If the stars are right, they'll proceed carefully and get the lay of the land before aggressively asserting their authority. But fail to heed the time-tested saying "First impressions count," and you risk making serious mistakes that you'll carry with you throughout your tenure. Worse yet, they could get you fired before you even get used to your brand-new office.
As the old saying goes, "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Your first two weeks on the job are critical. Here are four mistakes to avoid:
1. Bad attitude. It can surface in many ways. For example: You're so impressed with your importance (graduated from an Ivy League school, worked for blue chip companies) that you actually think that you're better than everyone else. You're starting out overconfident, which can lead to poor, even irresponsible decisions. You're destined to bite off more than you can chew and attract negative attention. How long do you think you will last?
2. Make drastic changes without considering possible repercussions. Many new PMs think they should start out with a bang by asserting their authority immediately. For example, if cost-cutting is a high-priority mission of the job, they'll waste no time laying off employees, thinking they're making a strong statement demonstrating their no-nonsense management style. All they…

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