Stepping into a new role can be challenging. New places, faces, cultures and expectations can overwhelm you, and it’s not uncommon for many professionals to second-guess their decision to start somewhere new once the novelty of the first few days fades away.
But the first 90 days are critical. So in order to not lose your momentum, enter with a plan for achieving your most important objectives and standing out as a high-potential or innovative leader. Whether you’re an incoming graduate or a new CEO, if you want to secure a lasting, positive experience at your new organization, make your first 90 days count. Here’s how:
Be Ready To Learn
Regardless of your experience, title or level of authority, you have a lot to learn about your new role and organization. Tap into the wisdom of those who’ve been there for a while as well as those who may be somewhat new. Even if you’re the top dog, vulnerability is key to developing sustainable relationships, respect and insight.
Schedule time to get to know team members one-on-one. Ask open-ended questions, and listen thoughtfully. This is not only the best way to learn more about the culture, opportunities and concerns, but it also solidifies mutual respect. When others see your willingness to be open to their ideas and expertise, they are more likely to follow your vision and be open to your suggestions for change.
Gain Situational Clarity
Now that you’re in your new position, you’ll get a truer perspective of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. This is the prime time to diagnose why you’ve been brought into this position and how your personal “value” will contribute to the overall goals and vision.
Consider using a SWOT Analysis to identify your (and your team’s) strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats, and build a 6-month strategic plan infused with success metrics to accomplish your most important goals. Additionally, gain support from key players, and always be transparent about your intent.
Respect Authority And Traditions
Though you may be overflowing with new ideas and plans for organizational change, tread cautiously. Making bold changes right away can be ostracizing. While there is always room for innovation, deep-seated traditions are at the heart of company culture. So instead of heading into your first 90 days with guns blazing, journal and reflect thoughtfully on your impressions and suggestions for change. Then look for ways to integrate them into conversations and strategic planning sessions. Tackling change thoughtfully shows respect for existing authority and goes a long way in gaining buy-in for future transformations. If the main objective of your new role is focused on change, take it slow and use the tools of transparency and empowerment to help foster results.
Develop Your Ambassadors
As you get to know those around you, identify colleagues who can support, mentor and challenge you to be your best. This supportive network will counsel you from all sides and help you when you face setbacks or require objective insights. Having a group of trusted ambassadors will make your work experience that much more enticing. You’ll find yourself growing more at ease with systems and your environment, experiencing less stress and more productivity when you have trusted colleagues to talk to.
Introduce yourself to others you encounter in the halls or break rooms, and set follow-up “get to know you” lunches or meetings when a potentially fruitful connection is made. Also, use the company organizational chart to identify key connections whom you can learn from and get on their calendars. Use that time wisely, coming prepared with questions and goals for your meeting. You want to be respectful of others’ time and busy schedules, but pushing yourself out of your comfort zone will help not only help you grow within your role and organization, but also build your network of ambassadors.
Plan For Progressive Growth
Design a plan for professional development that invites increasing responsibility and honing of skills and strengths. While everything is new and you’re seeking a sense of comfort and stability, it’s easy to dismiss the idea of change. Avoid this career-derailing trap with your growth plan. Always be exploring internal and external opportunities for training, mentoring and self-development.
Try New Things
Believing that success is doing the same thing in the same way that you’ve always done things is a fatal mistake. A new position and/or a new organization will challenge you to grow, change and be open to new ways of doing things. Look for unique ways to get involved and take part in engagement building activities, such as professional development programs, leadership trainings, company picnics, charity events, associations and groups, and even after hours get-togethers and social functions.
Finally, be prepared to experiment with trying out different ways to achieve your desired results. Your new colleagues may be resistant to novel methodologies until you’ve proven yourself as a positive fit. It’s your job to rise to this challenge while still being able to move forward and put your personal mark on all that you do.
By Kim Monaghan, Founder of KBM Coaching & Consulting
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