Dear Bob ...
I'm about to start a new job. It's a new company that's much bigger than my last employer, and a new industry for me, but the job itself is actually a step back from what I used to do, so it should be easy to be successful.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Take a job that's a bad fit or hope for a better one? | Get sage IT career advice from Bob Lewis' Advice Line newsletter. ]
Except that during the interview process I learned that two predecessors washed out, failing to turn around the area I'm going to be managing. So I know I need to be cautious. I'm just not sure what I need to be cautious about.
What, other than overconfidence, should I be looking out for?
Dear Entering ...
You got a big one already. Overconfidence, which includes any notion that you know what you have to do, is one of the big gotchas in a situation like this.
By way of explanation, an analogy: I once spoke to a guy who traveled the country presenting the same material to audience after audience on behalf of his employer. He was excellent -- energetic, engaged, and genuine. I asked him how he managed to stay fresh with material that had to be stale for him by now.
His answer: He never thought of it as presenting the same material. He thought of it as presenting to a new audience every time -- a completely fresh experience for him.
Your knowledge is all about the processes you need to put into place to make your organization work. You have no knowledge of the people. Given that you're about to occupy a "desk o' death," it's those pesky human beings who are going to be your big challenge.
You have three goals for your first month on the job, and none of them is trying to turn your organization around. They are to learn: