This blog was written by Microsoft General Manager, Wangui McKelvey, as part of the Amplifying Black Voices blog series. Check out some lessons she's learned as a newcomer to Microsoft during the pandemic.
I joined Microsoft in February 2021 which was just about a year into the global pandemic. Like most places, we were 100% working from home with no real sense of when normalcy would return. Since I had spent the last year working remote with my previous employer, I thought it would be easy enough to roll into this new gig remotely as well. On the one hand it was a seamless transition. I had my home office setup working, had figured out how to manage my kids’ virtual school schedule and I was trying to figure out whether I loved or hated getting my groceries delivered. On the other hand, it was harder than I thought. I took for granted how much I knew and understood at my previous employer. If I got stuck, I knew who to call or where to look to get help. I knew I had a stellar support network that I could tap into if I needed advice, someone to bounce ideas off or simply a safe space to vent if I was having a bad day. I didn’t realize how much I relied on this work village until I no longer had it. The good news is I can create a new work village here and still tap into my existing village whenever I need it.
So, I thought I would share 5 things I’ve learned so far about navigating a new company in this new hybrid world:
You must make time to have human connections with your new co-workers. While this sounds simple, it takes time and effort to do. For me this meant getting to know my team and co-workers. Asking about their home life, their hobbies and then sharing personal stories about what I am up to. It can be as little as a 5 min intro or outro to a meeting. It’s amazing what doors open when you ask, how are you doing? How’s your family?
Get clear on the business objectives you are expected to impact and what success looks like. This can evolve and change over time but it’s important to get clear on what the goals are and key results you are expected to deliver. Write them down and share them with your boss to make sure what you heard translates to what you understand.
Meet and network with stakeholders outside of your direct reporting line. I have learned so much by getting to know people that work in different functions that intersect with the work I’m doing with my team. Hearing other perspectives will help you in the learning curve as you ramp up in your role.
Ask lots of questions, it really is your superpower. One of the beautiful things about being new is you know nothing . Embrace that and ask away! Most of the time, you are not the only one thinking it and not the only one who will benefit from the answers given.
As soon as it’s reasonably possible, make the time to meet your team in person. I truly believe having a great working relationship starts with human connection which only gets better when you can be in person. For me that meant taking a work trip to Seattle where part of my trip included a fun outdoor lunch meeting with my team. I will plan to do something like this a few times a year to help with the human connection I need to be successful in this role.
Lastly, I have learned I have so much more to learn. I just have to be open to the journey. So that is what I’ll do. Be open, be curious and keep learning