You’ve probably started a new job at some point in your
life. Whether you floundered through the transition process or eased your way
into them, you had to figure out your new role and new working environment. I’m
here today to help you get through the transition process and help you ease
your way down that learning curve.
I’ve been in two rotational
programs, lived in two different
states, and worked four different jobs
in the last three years. I’ve also jumped through three functions in this
At PepsiCo, I worked in Sales.
At Boeing, I’ve worked in both
finance and business operations/project management.
overcoming learning curves are just a few things I’ve learned (and am still
learning) how to manage through. Along the way I’ve picked up on 4 main things to clarify and figure out with your manager, team, and specific role.
1. Learn & Clarify Day to Day
One of my biggest lessons in coming down the learning curve
was not just learning my actual job, but to actually manage daily expectations.
In my first job out of college with PepsiCo, I was a sales
representative that managed and sold into 30+ grocery stores in the South
Orange County area. In my first 2-3 months, I got in serious trouble for
leaving work early. I did not realize that my manager and team did not count drive time
as a part of the work day. So in my manager’s eyes, I was working less
than 8 hours a day (even though I was driving for 2-3 hours day going from
store to store).
It was never my intention to cut work early… after that
lesson, I made sure to work at least 8 hours a day in stores and averaged a
minimum of 50+ hours a week with my drive times.
Advice: Ask your team
and manager what a full working day looks like and what other day to day
expectations look like.
What does a full working day look like? Does our team take 30 min or 1 hour
lunches? If I have a doctor appointment, should I take a sick day to attend to
it or can I just come back to the office afterwards? How far in advance should
I request vacation?
2. Learn how to communicate with: Your
Another lesson I learned from my first job at PepsiCo was
that I needed to learn how to communicate with my manager. Since I worked out
in field and my team did not have an office in southern California, I had to
learn how to communicate with a manager I saw a few times a quarter. I ended up
scheduling a once a week phone meeting with her. During our phone calls, I
would sharing my accomplishments and places where I needed help.
Advice: Ask your
manager how they would like to be communicated with and how frequently you
should be meeting or tagging up.
Guided Questions: Do you prefer to meet one on one face to face or
over the phone? Do you prefer to meet once a week or bi-weekly? Do you prefer
to 15 min or 30 min tag ups?
*If you want some tips on how to build a positive relationship with your manager, read this previous post.
3. Ask for Help:
My first 6 months at PepsiCo were difficult as I learned my
selling style and became familiar with my sales territory. To help me ease into
my role, I asked for additional training. I initially had 3 training days in
Chicago with the rest of my rotational program and 1-2 weeks of job shadowing
in San Diego and Los Angeles.
My manager let me know that I was not performing
up to par 3 months into my role so I decided to ask for additional training. I
ended up job shadowing one of the sales reps I looked up to in LA to see how he
developed his selling style and how he manages his relationships with the
Advice: Ask your
manager and team for help. You can also ask what success or expectations look like at one month, three months, six months, and one year.
Who should I reach out to if I have day to day questions? Can I please request
additional training to help me learn my role? Where should I be performing in month one, three, six, or at one year?
4. Don’t Mistake Learning for
The biggest lesson I learned from my first job out of school
and 4 other jobs since graduating is to not mistake the period of learning for
incompetence. As I floundered through my first 6 months at PepsiCo, I came down really hard on myself. I
questioned whether I was even competent enough to be in the role.
I ended up
being ranked #1 salesperson by the start of the year, but I’ll still never forget the
self-doubt I experienced. I felt this way as I started my two rotations
in finance at Boeing too.
I identified my experience with imposter syndrome and finally shared my feelings of self-doubt and worries of
competency with a mentor last year. She told me to not confuse learning for
incompetence. She said that learning how
to perform well in a new role does not make you dumb or unqualified to be there
– you’re just learning. I took this incredible lesson with me into my 3rd
There you have it. Four tips to help you come down a new
learning curve and help you transition into any new role. What is your advice
on helping someone learn a new role?
Thank you for reading!
Photos: Holly Phan