For 15 years Ram Kumar had worked in public sector. In delivering vaccines through public health programs. When in 2008, he received a new offer. To develop medicines for a neglected disease. Ram was tempted. New job. A compensation hike. A prestigious job title. A stable company. Why not? Ram’s wife said.
Ram thought. Ram was nervous. After all he was on a smooth sail. Doing good work. In good times. With good rewards. Yet. The new job was tempting.
Ram took a few days of leave. And travelled to Binsar. In the quiet of the forest, in the majesty of the mountains he would decide.
Returning to Delhi after seven days of leave, Ram submitted his resignation and accepted the new offer. A new journey would begin in eight weeks.
Ram had a mentor. A supervisor from his first job. He was not much literate in letters but had seen the world. Ram trusted him. Immensely.
One Saturday evening Ram called him. Mr. Manager. And after the usual icebreakers, Ram said “I need some guidance from you, Sir.”
Thereafter, Ram explained his problem. New job. New work. New location. All new. He has never worked in product development. Never in medicines that cure. His focus had been on prevention by vaccines and the geography was new.
“Lovely, exiting times ahead.” Said Mr. Manager. Over the next 30 minutes, Ram heard and Mr. Manager told the story of his life. From one challenge to another. From one location to another. From familiarity to unfamiliarity. “And I was never scared for I knew a mantra. That I will teach you today. Learn this Mantra. Practice its essence. And you will feel more secure.
The 5 P mantra.
In every new job, you will come across personalities. Your boss. Your peers. Those who you will manage. And they will not be as you like them to be always. You can not ignore them. You have to live with them. Try to know them. The personalities. Broadly. Some will love a conversation over coffee in the cafeteria. Some will expect a pen-notebook conversation. Some will be mindful of punctuality. Some will believe it is the output that matters- when it is done is not the most important. Some will like a hint of humor in a conversation. Some will consider humor in a serious conversation as a sacrilege. Know these personalities and for the first few months as much as possible try to accommodate their traits. They must know your personality too.
You are coming to a new field, you said. But you know more than me that this space had not remained vacant for so long. There are partners who have been in this space for long. Do not ignore them. Listen to them. Tell them you appreciate all that has been done. And you come humbly to join hands. To lend a hand to a vehicle they are pushing uphill. You can be a partner in many ways. You can complement. Once you learn more, you can challenge. You can even disrupt. But be transparent and keep engaged with them so that they know transparently what your thoughts are. Your strength can never move the vehicle alone. Together you can.
Be patient. Very important. You will have just entered. And you would love to make a stamp. And hear me and make no mistake. Any attempt you try to make of a hasty impression will have a huge risk of portraying negatively. Wait. Be patient. Listen. Learn. Look. And then when a time comes prove your worth. Always know, nothing happens overnight. It takes time. It will happen eventually. Be patient. Win the war. Battles will be won and lost. Do not worry as long as you are honest and transparent.
Be careful of the promises you make to the organization and your partners. You will be tempted to make promises. Promises that you will have to keep. It is always so tempting. But if you make promises too early before you have gained good knowledge the promises may become your liability. Therefore, do not promise early. In fact, if possible, avoid promising anything. Making promises makes you feel super human. Try to avoid that image.
Lastly, do not be naïve. You are not entering heaven with your new job. There will be politics in work and office. You will also be affected. No one on earth can remain immune to politics. I do not know what good politics is. So, I can only tell you politics is bad. But unavoidable. I cannot tell you how you should address office politics and work politics. Just do not be naïve that it does not exist. Address the politics in your own way. Because of all the Ps, you may end up finding that what mattered at the end of the day was this very P. How well you addressed it will determine how content you are with your job.
So, go Ram. With the 5 Ps to your new job.
- Know the Personalities.
- Respect your Partners.
- Be Patient.
- Do not make Promises early or ever.
- Address the Politics.
There is a sixth P that you may require. But leave it to your Ma, me and your well wishers to address that. We will Pray for your success.
Ram Kumar joined the new company after eight weeks. And continued for five years with two Promotions in his stint with the company.