New at Work? Beginners Add Value Too!

I've seen a lot of "reaction" videos pop up on YouTube. For example two music fans will listen to a Megadeth song for the first time. It's fun, hilarious, compelling, and allows me to see one of my favorite bands in a new light.

(Warning, that link is not family friendly! But I think the vibe is awesome!)

What happens is "reactors" video their spontaneous, in-the-moment, impressions of epic songs. They love music, and they'll chat together about what makes this track hit them hard. They have brilliant fun and bring us along for the ride.

They help us see something familiar in a new light. We know the music well, we hold an idea of the song in our minds, and yet fresh listeners help us unlearn and gain new experience. Amazing!

Seeing something familiar through new eyes is amazing because we can remember what it's like to be a beginner again. Incredibly difficult for experts to do. Incredibly useful for all of us to try in the name of making better work for others.

Do That for Your Business

If you're new to a company you might think you need to sit back a bit at the start. Do things like:

  • Learn the system
  • Make an assist
  • Study plans
  • Help veterans meet deadlines

That might be true - those things can certainly help teams deliver. Shipping working software is what it's all about.

What if you treat your rookie status as an opportunity? Take a look around with your fresh perspective. Watch how the team works together, see how the code reads, find out the tools used, and understand behaviors people celebrate.

Offer constructive feedback.

Make things better. Did you see information missing from new-hire orientation? Thoughtfully document your fresh observations. Let them become a key part of your team’s on-boarding process. Make life easier for future teammates!

How might a new hire dare suggest changes? Easily! Current colleagues are experts. They can’t see what new people need to know when joining, but you can. Be helpful.

Woman holding binoculars looking into distance

Developer Experience is a Good Thing

For example, if you're a programmer, and your company makes APIs, find a page of documentation from your company's developer portal that you've never seen. You don't know anything about it? Outstanding!

Embrace your inner newbie!

Invest time into reading the API docs. Jot down useful notes on how you understood the content. Send your helpful reactions to someone who can make improvements. Even better, ask how to make the changes yourself. Don't wait to get involved.

Have more time? Go further! Dig deeper.

Get a feel for the API. Run a REST client on it. Write a little NodeJS app to put it through its paces. Send requests up, and parse the responses that come down. Study them and see if they're clean, consistent, and capable.

Act Like Your Customers

Authentic reactions from your beginner's mind can help your company's subject matter experts see necessary improvements they never noticed they needed to make.

Everyone is a beginner when facing something new. You as a new hire, and freshly signed customers getting on-board with your platform. The tricky part is, you're teammates have built things, and it's hard for them to see past their deep expertise.

Smart people tend to assume everyone knows what they know. That mindset is understandable, but it gets in the way of explaining their work to new users. Digital products, like any real world product, needs instructions for how to use them. Be a part of that.

Beginners Help Teams Win

I have no doubt that your customers are good at what they do - building software applications. The reality is, they start off not-good at doing new things with your digital products.

Make sure the "zero-to-sixty" using your tech is as quick as possible. Match fast integration with confident use in production. Help your customers gain competence as fast as they can type.

Celebrating inexperience seems strange, but used the right way, you can turn it into a valuable advantage for your company!

One way street sign

One More Thing

Are you considering a move into a new role at your current company? Are you looking to start working at a new business? Can a "reaction video" help you gain the attention of a hiring manager?

I know people warn against doing uncompensated work. I know others advise that we ought to closely guard our personal time to rest and relax. Fair enough.

I'll offer that I've seen volunteering positive, kind, and actionable advice of someone's work is a great way to start a conversation. Maybe you send over some helpful notes and they reply no thank you.

Maybe it opens a door leading to an outstanding collaboration. Who knows where it goes from there. It's worth taking a small chance for great change.

Here's a concrete, tech-centric, example of documenting reactions to popular work. It's a collection of UX case-studies from a growth team. I don't know if their goal is to gain work, but you might use it as a jumping-off point for a conversation-starter with your next crew!

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