Not Researching the History of Your New Company is a Big Mistake

Not Researching the History of Your New Company is a Big Mistake

Source: This article was originally published on CNBC.
Written by: Courtney Connley, CNBC Make It

You’ve landed a brand-new job. Congratulations! Now you can sit back and wait for your start date, right? Wrong. There’s a major mistake people often make as they’re starting a new job, but it’s on you can avoid.

You’re excited. They’re excited. What could possibly go wrong? Well, a lot, if you make this incredibly common mistake: not researching the history of your new company. It’s imperative, that you do your research before starting a new position.


Do a Google search. Take a company veteran to coffee. Find out who started the company, and why. Who propelled its success and how? Who screwed it up along the way and what happened to them? Who owns how much of it and who’s really in control of what?

Approach your new company like you’re entering a partnership. You wouldn’t get married without knowing your partner’s life story, right? Your new company also has a past and you’ll be savvier — and more effective — if you come on board knowing it.

I learned this lesson the hard way. In 1981, as a recent college graduate, I was working as a crime reporter at the Miami Herald. In the beginning, I wondered why so many police officers, whose information I desperately needed every day, were unfriendly to me. I hadn’t done anything wrong yet!

A few weeks later, at a party with some colleagues, I finally learned why I was receiving such treatment. We were replacements for reporters who had been fired after going on strike. The police, who were also unionized, saw me as a traitor — and I’d been oblivious.

I immediately dug in an learned everything I could about the company’s history and culture.

I discovered how contentious that recent strike had been. I learned that my own boss had refused to walk out, losing dozens of friends in the process. This small fact, importantly, really changed our relationship, because I finally understood him.

Going forward, I never took another job again without doing my due diligence.

Context shows us where we enter into the narrative of our organizations and often prepares us for what lies ahead. Make sure you face your exciting future better by researching — and understanding — your company’s past. You may be a newbie, but you don’t have to act that way.

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator, and public speaker. Through its online MBA program, the Jack Welch Management Institute transforms the lives of its students by providing them with the tools to become better leaders, build great teams, and help their organizations win.

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