New job transitions can be tough. They require abundant energy, motivation, and perseverance. Setting realistic expectations about the roller coaster ride ahead will help you through the peaks and troughs of your transition. The following tips should help too.
1. Take a break.
Before you start, stop. Fewer than 30 percent of people moving jobs take an adequate break between the time they leave one job and start the next. Don't leave your role on Friday and start your new one on Monday. Take at least a week off for vacation to decompress, unwind, and reflect.
2. Work on your relationship with your boss.
Recently hired leaders who have an open, trusting relationship with their boss deliver results faster and take bold moves to grow the business. Don't put off the "so how do you like to work" conversation until conflict or misunderstanding arises. Proactively ask your boss what makes them happy and drives them crazy, and then reciprocate.
3. Listen and learn.
The Container Store gives every new employee 283 hours of training in their first year to learn the business, products, and company. Their employee turnover is only 10 percent against an industry average of 100 percent as a result of being Thoughtfully Ruthless with their resources. Don't immediately jump into action; take your time to learn the business first.
4. Test what you heard in your interview.
Just like houses are staged for sale, so are companies and jobs. Now you need to test the reality of the preview you saw. Make a list of all the insights you gained when interviewing and start testing and understanding them now that you are inside the company.
5. Go back to the floor.
I once spent three weeks sitting next to artists, animators, and watching developers code, I even recorded some voiceovers in the music studio for an early version of Perfect Dark Zero. This was how I learned how video games were made when joined British games studio Rare to manage the post acquisition transition after Microsoft acquired them. Those first few weeks were priceless and gave me great insight to the games being made and the people involved. Identify five critical areas of your business that you could benefit from seeing from the floor. Take some time to answer phones in customer service, shadow an account executive on a sales visit, or sit through a technical design review. Go and shadow; meet and learn from those people and be curious.
6. Focus on your team first.
Decide in the first two months if you have the right team. A new leader's success hinges on the strength of the team they inherit or the speed and effectiveness of repositioning that team and attracting the right talent to deliver their business strategy. Do your due diligence early and thoroughly on what capabilities you need on your leadership team, and assess who meets that expectation and where you may need to make changes. I have never heard an executive say that they made leadership changes too fast--I have only heard regret over not moving quickly enough. Trust your gut; validate it and act quickly to create a galvanized leadership team.
7. Use your time wisely.
Those first few weeks in a new role will give you more free time than you will have on your calendar again, so use it wisely. Meet key customers, peers, and stakeholders for your organization. Don’t attend every business review and financial planning meeting. Be ruthless with where you spend your time. Don’t let your calendar grow a life of its own. Plot out your ideal time mix of spending time with customers, getting external insights, making strategic decisions, leading your team, thinking time, one-on-one coaching, and so forth. Develop a plan to build that into your schedule.
8. Don’t expect immediate friends.
It can be a lonely existence in a new company if you don’t act proactively. You likely left behind solid relationships and friendships that you had cultivated over many years. Know it will take time to build a new inner circle, but patiently persevere.
9. Learn how things are done around here.
Remember the first time you visited a foreign country and committed a cultural faux pas? When you move companies you are at risk of doing just that. You were hired for your expertise, leadership, and specific background, but now you have to operate within a new world. Be curious and learn the new culture. Identify what is different and where you may find it easy or harder to adapt. Contact me for a copy of my Cultural Continuum tool to map your new company and your old company and identify where the biggest gaps are and consider how you can successfully adapt.
10. Create your own personal growth goals.
Use the fresh start as an opportunity to focus on your own personal goals, whether it is to empower your leadership team more or grow your understanding of emerging markets. Whatever it is, build it into your plan. Reset your own reading list of blogs, experts to follow, and conferences to attend to promote your own continuous learning.
11. Create a new temperature gauge.
At your old company you knew what was valued, how to be successful, and who to listen to and who to ignore. Start building your new success temperature gauge to guide you on whether you are overheating or lukewarm on the results you are producing.
12. Find opportunities to teach.
The biggest mistake companies make with new hires is they fail to learn from them. What is your unique expertise or skill, and how can you teach it while learning about your new company?
13. Find a coach fast.
Employees who have a coach supporting them in their launch into a new role reduce their number of days to full productivity by 60 percent. Identify someone in your new company or an external coach who can help you as you launch into your new role. I often work with new leaders weeks before they start to help accelerate their impact when they walk in on day one.
Those who quickly deliver results as a new leader show empathy and humility but also resilience to push on the right issues. Be patient, be conscious, and be deliberate. Open your eyes and ears, and develop a trusted advisor network to help you identify where you are on track and where you need to course correct. Most of all, give yourself some time, and celebrate the successes along the way.