Anne Moore is the Founder and CEO of PlanDo, the market leading career management platform. Anne has 30 years experience in human resources and is a great advocate for individual success and empowerment. Anne’s kindly agreed to share her knowledge and experience about one of the most crucial steps in your career – starting in a new role.
Your early days in any new role are a critical time of promise and vulnerability. You’re excited at what the future may hold, but you’re probably still a little apprehensive about it too.
Luckily, you’re not alone. Everyone’s been through this process before. Here’s the top 10 ways to be successful in this next phase of your career.
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 organisation to ensure your success.
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.
Know your skills, strengths and the things that motivate you to go the extra mile. Give some thought to how this role and the organisation align to your personal values, sense of purpose and contribution. Hopefully, that’s been a part of the selection process already.
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, you’re more likely to be held in good stead against the trials and challenges you 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.
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 goals. 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.
Remember, these are investments in your future. For example, knowing business priorities and how your contribution aligns is key.
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, so use this time to define the role and your place in the organisation.
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 overall career progress.
We’re talking about a mindset and awareness, where you’re proactively driving your career, prepared to maximise 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 is for this particular role. On average, 30 year old high potentials stick around for 28 months. A rule of thumb suggests allowing 6 months to get fully up the curve, 12 months building and refining skills, 12 months consolidating these skills and 6 months in preparation for moving on. On this basis, you need to make the most of every day.
Research indicates that roughly 2 of 5 leaders underperform as they step into new, more senior roles (CEB High Impact Leadership Transitions: A Transformative Approach, 2012). 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.
There’s an old adage that says success in roles is the intersection of an individual’s strengths with business opportunities, whereas ‘failures’ intersect individual weaknesses with business challenges. So, think hard about what you bring, what you want to achieve and how you’ll go about it in your new environment.
After you’ve made a sound investment up front, you’ll want to maintain the energy and drive. 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 at that next role way ahead of the pack.
Anne Moore, Founder & CEO, PlanDo
PlanDo is a market leading career management platform that enables individuals to perform and grow everyday, across their working lives. For individuals, it means the power to take control, get regular feedback and make stronger contributions. For enterprise, it’s all about self directed collaborating individuals who are more engaged, productive and capable.