How to Get Off to a Great Start in a New Supply Chain Job

By Published On: May 19, 2021

How do you get off to a great start in a new operations or supply chain job? What should you do before and immediately after you start? Well, we are about to give you some great pointers that can reduce your risks, increase ramp-up speed, and raise the ceiling on your potential contributions when changing jobs or starting a new supply chain job. These tips are also applicable when changing employers or transitioning to a new department or division within your current company.

What is expected from you?

First and foremost, it is critical that you understand what is expected of you. This often requires a planning session with not only your immediate manager, but also with other key stakeholders such as important superiors, relevant peers, and potential outside parties such as large customers or suppliers. Typically, there is a different network of people in say – procurement versus manufacturing. And clearly, there are different metrics. Outline them on paper and share them so you understand key nuances where there may not be full alignment between people.

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Present yourself well!

Every company and location or division has norms. This includes how you dress, schedule & conduct meetings, and the level of formality. For example, some international employers can be more formal, dressing conservatively, showing up for meetings right on time, and usually planning activities well in advance. Others are more ad hoc and informal; operating like a typical startup. Does the teamwork from home a lot, or do they show up early; or maybe stay late? Do you understand the norms and how to adapt to the potentially new culture?

It’s critical to balance your confidence with humility when starting a new supply chain job. There will be much to learn and it’s important to have reasonable faith in your ability to achieve. Keeping a healthy dose of belief in yourself versus demonstrating a willingness to learn can help you present the right face to your new organization. People love those who can contribute quickly and at the same time respect the history and current culture of the business.

Be diligent about learning

There will be so much new to understand. Take good notes to which you can refer later. Write down and learn names, titles, and organizational reporting. Be sure to ask plenty (and appropriate) questions. Think through what you might want to ask and have a discussion plan for important meetings. Leave time for unstructured learning as well. There will certainly be things that you didn’t even realize were important. You may have to put in more time when starting a new position. Even if you know the company well due to an internal transfer or promotion, there will be a lot of new details and responsibilities which simply require a lot of time to be invested. Put in the effort!

For advice on leading and motivating your new team, check out: Boosting Employee Engagement in Supply Chain!

Follow up

Identify the key people with whom you should follow up with and how often. Clearly, you should work with your direct superior(s) to develop the right cadence. But what about others? In supply chain functions, it is important to think about procurement, operations, planning, distribution, customers, vendors, channel partners, and so many other groups. Have you thought through your wider network and prioritized how to engage them?

Developing relationships with new people is part logical and part art. Use a calendar and appropriate notes, but don’t forget that people have individual styles. How can you customize for each audience so you build a solid foundation?

Following up has the important business objective of meeting key goals. Identify what the goals are early, write them down, then track them with the right colleagues and superiors. Assuming you have defined your expectations well (as noted above), then regular updates enable everyone to see progress as well as obstacles. Sometimes plans need to be changed due to unforeseen challenges. Discuss this to ensure that you are meeting the highest priority expectations.

Putting it all together

Planning and executing the items noted above can put you on a path to success for your new supply chain or operations position. A well-thought-out plan with the right team orientation and leadership style will maximize your chances for success.

Should you want to learn more about maximizing your career (and also building great teams to enable success), please visit our website to explore podcasts, articles, and other resources: SCM Talent Group.

Good luck in your new role!