Build U Up

Job Transition: Why the First Few Months Are Critical

Congratulations! After great effort and focused energy, you’ve finally landed a fabulous new position—one that is sure to advance your career and meet your work and personal goals in a way your old position never could.

But don’t stop there. Getting hired or promoted is just the first step.

You’ll need to spend as much effort and energy—and maybe more—preparing for and making the transition. And this is where it really counts, for the first three to six months in any new position is a period of extreme vulnerability.

During this transitional period, everyone in your new company or department—boss, direct-reports, other employees—and even suppliers and customers are all forming initial impressions that will shape their expectations and actions. This dynamic is exacerbated when people in your new company or department expect you to bring about change within the organization.

This transitional period might even be riskier today than in years past. Shrunken budgets have meant less training, reduced staff support, increased workloads and, perhaps most of all, increased expectations for newly hired managers and executives. Should you end up leaving after a short stint, doing so can leave a black mark on your resume, raising questions for future employers about your judgment and ability to assess opportunities before making a career commitment.

“Leaders, regardless of their level, are most vulnerable in their first few months in a new position because they lack detailed knowledge of the challenges they will face and what it will take to succeed in meeting them,” writes Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels.

So, what can you do to assure that your transition is smooth and productive? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Ask your new company or department if it will commit to transition support by hiring a coach to work with you. Be bold in your request; you may even choose to make it a point of negotiation. The need for transition support is so important, I offer this as a bonus with my clients so they can get small wins quickly and set them and the company up for success with their new hire.
  • Use the period before you start in your new role to learn as much as you can about the company or department, its vision, its strategies, and the industry.
  • Examine the challenges and opportunities and identify the barriers to success.
  • Talk to people at the organization. What is the culture, and what are the processes? What kind of a team will you have to work with, and on whom will you be able to depend?
  • Assess your own strengths and weaknesses and identify personal vulnerabilities that could come into play in your new position. (To learn more about your strengths and weaknesses, ask me about my assessments that measure behaviors and motivators for reducing stress and creating powerful relationships at work and home).

You’re given a short window of opportunity to keep the honeymoon alive when you begin in a new role. You’ll want to create momentum quickly with small wins and build credibility, so you’ll enjoy long-term success.

Author’s content used under license, © Claire Communications

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