Monday, 16 May 2011

How to make sure starting a new role is a success

How to ensure you exit an organisation well? Work hard, tie up your loose ends and, most importantly, make sure of a soft landing wherever it is you are going next

So you have worked hard in a role and exhausted the development opportunities it has provided. You have now found that next step up in what is a crazy recruitment market and are looking ahead to that next position whilst looking to clear out your in tray. Is it time to put you feet up and relax as your last day in your current role approaches, planning your leaving party in between? Not quite.

Being someone who is about to move roles, I understand the wish to take it easy after having jumping through the hoops of a recruitment process – it is a ‘buyers’ market out there, so you are certainly due credit. However, the truth is that this was most probably the easy bit and the part that needs some real graft is how you make a success of your initial introduction in to a new role.

With this in mind I have been taking advice from colleagues and peers about how to plan a start in my new role and the famed 100 day plan that people talk about so often (the mega mind theory and all that does come in handy for instances like this). Here are 3 common suggestions that came up from more than once:

1.      Culture – process or person driven?
Ah culture. Not always concrete and not necessarily having a uniform set of criteria that you can transfer from one place to the next (‘They have a vending machine here I see – but what conclusions can I draw from the fact they have Twix but no mars bars? Let me just get my employer culture scorebook out for a moment…’) but you know it exists. And you need to get a sense of what it is about, and fast, to get going when you arrive in post.

Do people get things done by following the correct process or is it about knowing who can move that task that is stuck in the mire by a couple of quick conversations with key individuals? Or maybe people look for means to get more from processes and procedures over an entrepreneurial spirit?

This is not to say that one approach is better than the over but you need to be aware of which is in place where you are going otherwise you might be swimming against the (cultural) tide.

2.      Even Superheroes have double identities
Batman does crazy stuff in his evenings but during his 9-5 Bruce Wayne was going by the title of millionaire rather than superhero. He can fill both roles but you might not realise it on first sight. Tying in with the cultural aspect above, if it is the case that you can get things done by speaking to the right person at the right time; you need to find out who is Batman on the quiet.

Ditch any pre-conceptions about hierarchy or job titles. Sure the Director might have the authority to sign off on what you need cleared but you might be way down on their list of priorities. However that Office Manager who has worked at the company for 25 years might know of a little known alternative route to get the job done.

So you have found a solution to the immediate problem as well as building bridges with a key contact. To top if off you have not had to bother the Director in the first instance – so they can get on with out having you pester them with something that can be delegated. I bet Batman wishes people did this more often, he could probably give Alfred the weekend off if it were the case.

3. 3 is the magic number

You are going to meet a bunch of people in those first couple of weeks and, aside from learning what they are about in keeping with the above, you want them to get a sense of what you are about as well.

If there were 3 things that you wanted them to know about you or your career to date? It might start to prompt some personal ice breakers with your new colleagues ('You were a stunt double for Ralph Machio in the Karate Kid? Me too!') as well as give them a sense of what your strengths are from your professional experience to date.

It also might make it easier to ask for help (which you will need in those first few weeks) if people know you are new to an aspect of your role/ the industry the employer is based in/organisational culture etc. So remember it is good to talk - not too much mind, you dont want to be labelled a chatterbox!

Not exhaustive but hopefully some useful ideas to get you going - think I have missed something glaring out? Get involved via the comments below!


And always, always, always remember...

Because if - despite everyone's best efforts - the above tips do not work and things go very Apocalypse Now down the river, you might have to get in touch with them again. Fingers crossed you do not have to but it is nice to be nice - so be grateful because that is being nice!

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