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Congratulations on your new job! After a solid process, several interviews, meeting the CEO, and waiting for what seemed an age for the call, you have been offered and accepted a new role. It’s a great opportunity; a promotion, more responsibility, and a great fit for your skillset. The only things left to do are to celebrate with your family, give notice and get set for a stellar career with your new employer!
But before you pop the cork on your bottle of bubbles, there are some things to consider. Signing your contract is really only the beginning.
The transition into your new role is critical and should be planned and managed carefully. The first three to six months in a job are a time when you are being assessed – your every move, every decision will be examined. You are under the microscope from your boss, your peers, your team, your external contacts – everyone is watching and forming judgements and impressions of you and your capabilities. The more senior you are, the more you are expected to deliver, especially if you have been brought in with a mandate for change. Your credibility as a leader hangs on your performance in the first six months.
And it is a big challenge. You are going into a new, probably unfamiliar organisation. You may have a good overview of the key challenges of the new role, but without detailed knowledge of the business, and its operating culture, you can’t know exactly what it will take to address them. You don’t know your team, their capabilities, strengths, and attitudes and as yet, you don’t have a political map of the organisation – how it gets things done, and how influence and power are distributed.
So how can you ensure a successful start in your new role?
• Before you start the role commit time to learning as much as you can about the organisation; its plans, strategy, culture, people, competitors and the landscape of the industry.
• Meet the people. As soon as you can, set up meetings with key people in the organisation. Meet your team and key peers before you start if possible, to get a feel for how they operate, find out what you can about the culture of the business, how things are done, and what is expected.
• Make a 90-day plan. Establish your key challenges, look for quick wins and opportunities, and plan to manage the barriers to success.
• Listen and ask questions. Many leaders have failed because they failed to ask good questions, and didn’t listen to learn. Particularly when coming in with a mandate to make change it can be easy to roll out a plan that has worked well in another organisation, with the aim of getting some easy wins. Ask and listen a lot more than you tell and you won’t miss valuable insights.
• Assess your strengths and weaknesses honestly and be aware of them. How will they play out as you transition into your new job? What will you do well, and what should you manage carefully?
• Ask for a coach to work with you in the transition period. As an executive coach, I have been engaged to support transitioning managers and it makes a significant difference to the process. A coach gives you a safe place to bounce around ideas, to work through challenges and supports your learning and growth. If you can, negotiate upfront to have your contract include six months of coaching.
If you fail to make a positive impact in your first few months in the new job, you are going to be struggling to make up ground for a long time to come. Building your credibility, creating great relationships, and making good progress early on will set you up for long term success, and that stellar career you are envisaging as you toast the future!
Interested in coaching? Find out more here.
Read more about stepping into a leadership role.