Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Do you remember what it was like to start a new job? You want to make a good first impression and avoid making mistakes. But how do you know what your company is looking for? This week, I talk to Dr. Michael Watkins. Michael is the author of Your Next Move: The Leader’s Guide to Navigating Major Career Transitions and the international bestseller The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at all Levels. In today’s episode, we’ll talk about what you need to do to transition successfully into a new role. Whether you are new to your leadership position or you hope to be promoted, this episode will show you the path to success.
What aspects of transition continue to catch leaders by surprise?
Many leaders fall into the trap of thinking that they know what to do and that they have the skills to succeed in their new role. What got you to where you are will not keep you there. One of your early jobs is to figure out what you need to work on while you develop into that new role. You should be asking yourself, “What do I need to do to become GREAT? What do I need to stop doing?” Whatever the answers are, have the self-discipline and self-awareness to follow through.
New leaders also feel pressured to make people feel like they made the right choice. That pressure is usually self-imposed. They get tripped up because they do not take time to understand the culture and politics of the organization. Take time to get to know the culture before you make any major changes.
Q: What was your biggest challenge when you took on your current job? How did you overcome that challenge? What areas did you need to develop yourself to overcome that challenge?
Assess your vulnerabilities
What was a strength in one situation may be a vulnerability in another. Leaders need to take the time to understand their situation and what it requires of them. Then, they need to honestly assess where their weaknesses are and make a plan to find support in those areas.
Q: What skills do you need for your current job that you did not need for your previous job? How do you make sure that you are aware of your own weaknesses?
Tips for dealing with a new boss
Find out where the company falls in the growth process: Start-Up, Turnaround, Accelerated Growth, Realignment, or Sustained Success.
Get a clear understanding of the goals and results your boss wants.
Understand that how are you seeing the situation and how are they seeing the situation might be different.
Identify their leadership style and personality type. They could be very different from your own!
Q: What is your personality style? How is it different from your boss or peers? How can you overcome these differences? Do you think it is harder to deal with a boss or a coworker with a different personality? Why?
How can leaders create an early win when they take on a new position?
You can have an early win by building connections with your team early on. It’s great to have a strategy and a goal, but the real sum of an organization is what people are actually spending their time doing. When you get to know people, you will see what their priorities are, and you can help make their job easier and more fulfilling. Some leaders do this effectively by removing procedures that are not adding value.
Q: Describe a time you had a new boss. What helped form your first impression of them? Were you more impressed by who they were or what they were doing? Why?
Whether you are new to a job or not, understanding your boss’s definition of success is always helpful! What does your boss think that your goals are? What are their priorities? Take some time to make sure that you are dedicating time to those things during the week. If you have priorities that do not line up with theirs, have a conversation about your priorities and how you can create a strategy that makes everyone happy.
Take some time to reflect honestly on your weaknesses. One way to do this is by looking at your to-do lists. Is there anything that you consistently avoid doing? Is there a task that you routinely ask for help with? What tasks drain your energy? Look at your answers to these questions and see if there is a skill that would help you with those tasks. If not, look at your team to determine whether or not you can delegate some of those tasks.
What is your personal process for connecting with people either when you take on a new position or when you have a new person enter your team? Take some time to think about what you want to know about your employees personally and professionally. What would help you better understand how they work best and how to best work with them? Remember that using the answers to these questions will help your relationship with your team and increase transparency and effectiveness.