What to Focus On With Any New Assignment

This may be obvious, but I put some thought into how I was going to approach my new assignment.  I recently shared these thoughts with Don Kinkela (Don is my successor as Manager of Designs Engineering).  Don shared he was approaching his new position in a similar manner (does two people make it right?).

The learning I would like to share – when in a new assignment you should focus on three things – in order of priority:

  1. People (who work for you, who you work for (customers), and who you work with (peers and peer organizations)
  2. Plant (understand the process and technology that is currently in place)
  3. Work Processes (how does work get done)

Earlier in my career I would have initially focused on the Plant (as most engineers) or the Work Processes (because I am interested in how things are accomplished).  But I realize that it is the People that make any place go so I have been consciously putting meeting people (my group, our customers, and the Facilities Engineering peer groups) at the top of my list each day.  I am working to learn their strengths and styles, as well as listen / learn from them on what they think is important.   I expect I will continue this priority focus over next several rotations as I get up-to-speed.  I still will focus on people once I feel comfortable with the assignment, but it will take less conscious effort.