Your early days in any new role are a critical time of promise and vulnerability. Let’s look at why and what you can do to set the scene for amazing success.
- Prepare to go into your role organized. Don’t wait until Day 1 to get started. Think about who your stakeholders will be – peers, leaders, team, coaches, mentors; explore what you need to know about the business, and if necessary do some research before you begin. To hit the ground running, get the background clear in your mind and know what questions you’ll want to ask up front. Don’t rely on conversations to find information that’s readily available elsewhere, look on line, do some investigating. Be curious when it comes to finding out about your new opportunity, and create a list of intelligent, in depth questions that reflect your enthusiasm to learn more. Know the influencers and decision makers internally and externally, the business priorities. Be ready to identify what networks you may need to build across the organization to ensure your success.
- Do any necessary personal housekeeping to free up your head and your time. It’s a good idea to go into a new environment physically refreshed, so if possible take a breather before you begin to clear the mind and get focused on the opportunities ahead.
- Be clear on what you bring and what you want. Know your skills, strengths and the things that motivate you to go the extra mile. Give some thought to how this role and this organization align to your personal values, sense of purpose and contribution. Hopefully, that’s been a part of the selection process already – that includes how you’ve selected your new role from your range of options. Be mindful that you’re better equipped for success in life and work when you ‘move towards‘ rather than ‘move away from‘.
- Make a great first impression. Research shows that there’s a limited window of opportunity when it comes to making a lasting positive impact. During the first 90 days in a new role, your peers, team, new leader and even your clients and customers want to see how well you stack up, they’re assessing you against their personal expectations and experience. They’re forming a view that could be hard to shake. It’s interesting that when you create a positive first impression, it will hold you in good stead even against some of the trials and challenges you may face in the future. Errors and misjudgments are more likely to be put down to circumstance rather than your innate shortcomings when people like you. On the other hand, if your first impressions leave others ambivalent, confused or even disliking your style, they’ll be judging you at every turn for a long time to come. Sad but true, it’s an element of human nature.
- Set yourself up for success. Create a sense of purpose and confidence that will carry you through this critical period. Start a 90 Day Plan. Break it down into 7, 14, 30, 60 and 90 days. Add to your plan as you go. It’s also a good idea to take a 12 month perspective and visualise what your achievements and contribution at the end of your first year will look like. Map out your quick wins and foundations for success. Think about where and how you’ll get traction that shows your value early. Consider what pain points you can effortlessly relieve or solutions that can easily make a difference. There’ll be other important elements that will ensure your success is sustained. These are investments in your future. For example, knowing business priorities and how your contribution aligns is key.
- Share your view of the role requirements and your 90 day plan and be brave and specific in asking what the expectations and outcomes are your leader is looking for. You’d be amazed at how many people move into roles without a clear idea of what’s expected. The early days in any role are a period of exploration and negotiation.
- Know what purpose your new role serves as a stepping stone to your future. So far these are all good strategies for getting off to a flying start, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the importance of the first few months in any new role to your career progress overall. We’re talking about a mindset and awareness that you’re proactively driving your career prepared to maximize every opportunity and accelerate your success. People stay in roles for shorter periods than every before and it’s a good idea to know what your ‘use by’ date could be in this role. On average, 30 year old high potentials stick around for 28 months, while the average tenure across all age demographics is 4.4 years. A rule of thumb suggests 6 months to get fully up the curve, 12 months building and refining skills, 12 months consolidating and 6 months in preparation for moving on. On this basis, you want to make the most of every day.
- Build an active plan to develop your skills. Research indicates that roughly 2 of 5 leaders underperform as they step into new, more senior roles. In all probability you’ll be facing new challenges, more complex tasks with greater impacts. It pays to know where your skills sit and what enduring and transferrable skills you’ll be building. If you can articulate them, even better. Self awareness is an important component of effective leadership.
- Recognise the difference between success and failure. It’s interesting to consider why some people succeed in roles when others don’t. There’s an old adage that says success occurs at the intersection of an individual’s strengths with business opportunities, whereas ‘failures’ are hallmarked by individual weaknesses alongside business challenges. It’s a hybrid of SWOT. So, think hard about what you bring, what you want to achieve and how you’ll go about it in your new environment.
- Start out as you mean to go on. After you’ve made a sound investment up front, you’ll want to maintain the rage. Don’t waste a moment of your good work. Keep driving your performance and growth and take the initiative to update your leaders, peers, coaches with your progress. This way you’ll stand out and be looking to bigger and better things way ahead of the pack.
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