Week 3 as Senior Interaction Designer with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and I'm starting to feel as though I'm getting up to speed, or at least, to a place where I can make myself useful and meaningfully contribute to sprints.
I've gotten reasonably good at this over the years (I think).
I'm rather used to going into a new team assessing the work, how a team operates and where I fit in.
I've probably had more jobs than most people of a similar age. Its partly due to the nature of the 'digital' industry but it is also because I started my own company selling my skills and experience as a hired gun (contractor) at a comparatively young age.
Doing that helped me get to a point where without thinking too much about it, I can sense of how to fit in and add value.
If you've ever been on a management or leadership training course, you will have probably been introduced to Merrill & Roger's model of personality types.
An over simplification but if you find yourself in a new team and a little unsure of things, mentally assigning your new colleagues to those boxes for a week or two until you properly get to know them, can be helpful in those hectic early days. Mainly just a helpful reminder that people are generally trying to do a good job but perhaps think and operate differently to you.
I've found that in the early days of joining an existing team, it pays to be deliberate in the things you choose to work on. Choose (or negotiate) work that:
Work on things that will help you learn what you need to know, it could be something practical like 'How to deploy to the server', 'How to request X from Y' or could be business/subject knowledge that will give more context and meaning to your work.
Probably a good idea to avoid putting yourself under too much pressure to deliver in the early stages. Don't pick something up too critical to the sprint unless you're very confident you can deliver. Hopefully you work in a team that would understand and be there to support you but if your reason for reaching for a critical task is to prove yourself or show off then your motivation is wrong.
Make sure what you do is contributing to the goals of the team. In the early days it can be tempting to do work which we feel most confident, most comfortable and most interested in doing.
That might sound like the 'low risk' category but at this point in time, is it of value?
Pick up a task which helps you to learn, does not put you under too much pressure but you should also make sure the team needs you to complete it and that it does not detract from the current aims of the sprint or take the team down an unplanned rabbit hole.
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