Getting Up to Speed

October 4, 2013 Elaine Tai

I started working at Pivotal Labs about one month ago and since then, many people have asked me “How are you settling in at Pivotal Labs?” and this question always throws me off because I’m not settling in. I’ve BEEN settled since day one.

Starting a new job usually means you have to navigate some new waters before really settling in and getting comfortable. For some companies, that might require weeks of training, reading manuals, and taking tests. It can be boring, tedious, or overwhelming. At Pivotal though, it’s a bit different.

My first day at Pivotal Labs was unlike any other first day I’ve experienced. I was immediately placed on a client project, experienced a short inception, and went straight to building the application. Because we pair 100% of the time, working on a real project on my first day was exciting and not very overwhelming. My pair walked me through the usual steps we take to get a project started, explained the development process, and then we went straight to coding. It was that simple!

Because of my collaborative nature, I’ve always enjoyed pairing.You have someone to bounce your ideas, someone to learn from, and overall working becomes a lot more enjoyable with a companion. I knew all of this already, but something I didn’t expect was how quickly I would settle into my role. Knowing that there’s always another pivot by my side to immediately answer all my questions helped take the stress and worry of needing to learn everything quickly as possible but I still immediately acclimated with the Pivotal way.

Pivotal is huge on getting everyone on the team involved with the entire development process. That means everyone takes part in the inception, iteration planning meetings, retrospectives, and outception. Because I always involved, I never felt lost or kept out of the loop, and I got to know the client.

Furthermore, I feel like I’ve grown as a consultant. Before working at Pivotal, I was always afraid to deal with people. I’m a bit of a people pleaser, and so I have a habit of overpromising and then regretting my decisions later. Within my first month, I’ve observed and learned that constant communication, honesty, and transparency can make difficult conversations a lot easier. The client is always aware of our progress. Because the client was in the office, the feedback loop was always short and we would rarely be blocked. If my pair and I were unsure about a story, we’d go directly to the client to ask them for clarification.

So what’s the takeaway? If you have a new employee, hold their hand and walk them through your processes. Sit with them, work with them on the same problem, and show them your expectations by example. Get them comfortable and up to speed as quickly as possible by pairing and working with them.

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