Leaping into your next career role? How will you manage your transition?
Congratulations, you’ve realised your career goal and been offered your next dream job. What will you do when you start?
There’s a lot written about how to transition into your new career role. “The First 90 Days” by Michael D. Watkins is well worth the read as you navigate your way through this change and get familiar with a new organisation, boss and team, not to mention stakeholders and customers.
Having transitioned into new roles many times, as well as supporting and mentoring many senior Executives with their transitions, I’ve seen first-hand what’s worked really well for some and… not so well for others.
I believe how you leave your old role and transition into your new role is crucial to your success. So, here’s a few practical things to think about as you make this crucial transition.
1. Transitioning into a new role starts before you officially commence on Day 1.
How you leave your old role is just as important as starting in your new role. Informing your old boss and team that you are resigning can be difficult and emotional. Try to remain positive and constructive regardless of how the news is received. Key take out here is, “Don’t burn bridges” you may one day want to cross again. This needs to be managed by you alongside that mental shift and excitement that occurs at the time you are offered and sign onto your new role.
Prior to starting in your new role, try to have a break between roles. And without taking focus away from exiting your current organisation, connecting with your new business or boss, even your new team if possible, can be very beneficial ahead of your first day.
2. Make sure your family is on the bus with you.
We often forget about the implications for our families and those close to us as we transition from one role to another. Remember, they live this change as much as you do, so it’s important to take them on the journey. Keep them informed of what’s happening, how you’re feeling during this transition, what they can expect in the first few months in your new role. A few days break between roles is a great way to celebrate this new career phase and prepare with them.
3. Quickly build relationships with your new Boss and Team.
Starting a new role comes with much anticipation, particularly from your new boss and your new team (who have been anxiously awaiting your arrival) …plus they have expectations. There’s nothing more important than quickly establishing a connection with your new boss and team. Two reasons for this. Firstly, the business doesn’t stop for you to get your feet under the table, so you need to know what’s essential to keep the business running and what, if anything, your boss expects you to deliver or prioritise quickly.
Secondly, it’s crucial you discuss with your boss how you want to assimilate into your new role over the next 90-100 days and agree what that means and looks like. This is vital and will enable you to confidently manage the expectations of your team. Engaging the team, sharing your plan, listening and understanding what’s important to them is a great way to develop trust and lay an important foundation for your relationship with them going forward.
4. Work on the Business, not in it.
You will get dragged into day to day operational related matters during this period. But unless it’s for critical business reasons, stay focussed on building your knowledge of the business. Working on the business enables you to assess its capability, its drivers and those of your division or team. It helps you understand key stakeholder perspectives and requirements and listen to customer expectations so that you are well informed in setting your strategy and future direction.
5. Ask questions, seek to understand.
In a previous role, I said to one of my direct reports shortly after I started in the organisation “This performance management framework makes no sense, who would implement something like this?” You can imagine the reaction I got from this key person in my team who had been with the business for 8 years. The lesson I learnt is simple, seek to understand, don’t judge, there’s usually good intent behind why things are as they are. Ask questions, seek advice and empower your teams to challenge how things get done and develop solutions.
6. Build stakeholder and customer relationships quickly.
It goes without saying that all areas of businesses are interconnected in some way. Your part of the business is not an island. So, don't sit at your desk and get bogged down about what's happening in just your area. Get out and about, understand the connections across the business, meet people, build relationships with key stakeholders, suppliers and customers to understand how their businesses work and what their needs are before you act.
7. Run the business, identify some quick wins and set the future agenda.
Keeping your part of the business running and delivering is essential while you transition into your new role and set your future direction. Along the way identify some quick wins that assists your boss, team or the business demonstrating the reasons you’ve been engaged and the value you'll bring to the table. While you are formulating your longer-term agenda about how you'll take the business forward.
8. Communicate – just let people around you know what you are doing.
As you navigate your first 90-100 days, remember people are watching and probably waiting. So, along the way, don't be afraid to tell them what you are doing and why you are doing it. Update your boss regularly, talk to your team and celebrate any quick wins or achievements. Share your opinions, assist other parts of the business where you can, listen and manage expectations, be open to feedback and act on it at the right time. It’s all part of establishing your profile as a leader in the organisation, creating trust and confidence in your capability and the direction you want to take the business and people.
“The actions you take during the first few months in a new role will largely determine whether you succeed or fail” (Michael D. Watkins The First 90 Days).
It’s an exciting but equally challenging time when you transition into a new career role. Make the most of the opportunity! Good Luck
I’d be interested in hearing your feedback on this article or discussing your own experience. Give me call on 0400175821 and I’d be happy to chat.