As a consultant and coach I am frequently asked for advice when changing jobs. This job change may be a position change or promotion within the same organization. Either way, the same advice applies. I will provide this in four separate blog posts.
- A Systematic Approach
- Phase One: Pre-Start
- Phase Two: First Days On The Job
- Phase Three: Settling In and Taking Charge
You may not feel the need to use all four, or to complete every checklist suggested. Depending on your situation, some of the information will be more pertinent than other parts. You decide which sections you’ll want to spend more time with.
- A SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
Why Were You Selected For This Job?
Probably because the company likes your track record – both the kind of work you’ve been involved in and your accomplishments in that field. Probably because your new management senses that your personality and methods are compatible with theirs. And certainly because they can visualize you as part of the future growth and profitability of their organization.
How can you confirm their good judgment in selecting you, and use this opportunity as a quantum leap toward your career goals?
Probably by the professional manner in which you introduce yourself to the organization and take hold of your new responsibilities. Probably by the initial impressions you make with all the people you’ll be dealing with in you job. And certainly by your ability to get up to speed quickly and reach your maximum productivity in minimum time.
Right now you’re concerned with disengaging successfully from your current job. That’s a proper attitude, because you owe your organization (and yourself!) the courtesy of a professional closure. However, even at this early stage your emphasis begins to shift toward the new assignment, and toward your strategies for starting the next phase of your career.
What’s the best way to “hit the ground running” in your new job? It begins with your commitment to take an active role in developing a systematic approach to the transition process starting now instead of waiting until your reporting date. Without compromising the “closeout” requirements of your current job, you can begin to collect the information that will help you understand:
- Your new organization/division (how it operates; where it wants to go; how it intends to get there)
- Your new job/position (what management expects of you)
- The resources available to you (people, budgets, programs and operating freedoms you’ll need to get the job done
At this point you may know very little about the inner workings of the organization. You may have only a skeletal idea of your job requirements. You may have met very few of the people, except for your new boss and the Personnel manager who negotiated with you. Yet your mind is filled with questions:
- Who am I replacing, and how was he/she regarded by superiors, associates and subordinates?
- Why was the position vacant?
- Who else wanted my job, and how can I deal effectively with them in the coming months?
- What commitments were made to or by my predecessor that I should know about?
- Why was I selected?
- Upon arrival, what immediate responsibilities will I have to take on?
- If there is unfinished business with my old job, what arrangements would be acceptable to my new boss?
- How do things really get done?
- Do I have any allies or adversaries in my new job, and how are they identified?
- How and when will I be formally announced to the organization and its people?
The list could be much longer, and some of the questions may have been answered during the interview that preceded your selection. In any case, you need the answers to begin planning your systematic approach. As a starting point, make a list of question you have now about your new job. (Later as you begin to collect more specific information, you’ll be able to ask more pertinent questions, in much greater detail.)
FIRST IMPRESSIONS – Make a list all of the questions you’d like to be answered about your new job. Note the sources available to you at present for providing the answers.
Why have a Systematic Approach?
For many professionals the introduction to a new job is a haphazard affair. The good news is usually accompanied by smiles, handshakes, and vague statements about “getting together after you’re on board.”
Then follows a period of coordinating the relocation with in-house specialists….reading a few general pamphlets about the company and its products or services….and possibly some lonely moments of contemplating the nameless and shapeless challenges that lie ahead.
The first day on the new job is a kaleidoscope of administrative forms.. an absolutely un-rememberable volume of new faces and names….a quick tour of the immediate area…. and a few private minutes with the boss, whose impromptu remarks about projects and problems barely register.
Suddenly the new person is alone at a desk or behind an office door, checking the starter supply of pencils and wondering what comes next.
Answer? Simple. Next comes a honeymoon period – length unknown and indeterminable – after which the prevailing judgments will be rendered in either of two forms:
- “Joe really has taken charge in record time! We’ve got a real winner there!”
- “It’s a shame, but Joe still hasn’t grasped the situation yet. Guess we can’t always be right.”
But it doesn’t have to be that way for you. A few hours of up-front planning can arrange important subjects and issues in a logical priority and eliminate minor matters that tend to “fog” the entry process. The “people” skills you already possess can help you gain the cooperation of your boss and other sources of advance information. With a systematic approach to your upcoming transition you can:
- obtain information needed to form preliminary conclusions about the organization, your new job responsibilities, and the people you’ll be dealing with;
- provide a framework for your self and others to follow during your transition;
- simplify your “first day” entry with your boss, subordinates and associates;
- increase your managerial effectiveness during your first weeks and months on the job;
- bring yourself up to speed as quickly as possible in terms of productivity and results.
A Matter of Timing
Your entry process begins while you’re still in your old job, and ends on the day you’re performing effectively in the new position. Let’s divide the total process into three distinct phases as follows:
Pre-Start – A time for gathering information, researching the elements of you job (at least in general terms), getting familiar with some of the people involved, and coordinating your announcement and arrival.
First Days on the job – A carefully structured format for meeting key people, introducing yourself to your staff, getting down to brass tacks with your boss, and becoming familiar with departmental tasks and responsibilities.
Settling In/Taking Charge – A newcomer’s game plan for managing the efforts of people, solving problems during the first several weeks on the job, and obtaining complete agreement and support from the boss.
Each phase is treated separately and will follow in the next three blog posts, with a text that discusses the principal issues and work-sheets designed to help you plan your actions and priorities. To Be Continued….
Sharon Jenks, CEO/President -The Jenks Group, Inc.