Whether you are moving to an entirely different organization or just taking on an additional project for your long-time employer, the first few months of your new assignment can be critical. In the early days of your new role, you will lay a foundation that may shape your activities for years to come. While you are getting started, people may watch you carefully, drawing big conclusions from even your small steps.
While you are planning your transition, think about these strategies:
- Know what the job is. It is always important to know who your boss is and what he or she wants from you. At the start of something new it is vital – but not always easy -- to develop a clear idea of what your boss expects. Learn as much as possible about what your boss needs and likes. Have a direct conversation in which you identify benchmarks and timeframes. Your goal is for you and your boss to have the same realistic expectations about what you will achieve in the coming months.
- Don’t try to do everything.
- Avoid the mistake of trying to accomplish so much in the early days that nothing really gets done. A better approach is to concentrate much of your energy on a few top priorities.
- Remember the “80/20 Rule,” which says that most rewards in any situation come from a small number of the opportunities. Stated another way, the Rule suggests that about 80 percent of your results will come from about 20 percent of your inputs. While the numbers “80” and “20” aren’t absolute, this principle suggests that a small proportion of your activity always accounts for a large portion of your productivity. For example, if you’re a vendor, about 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your customers.
- The idea is to get the biggest bang for your buck. Think of all the things you might be doing, then concentrate much of your time and energy on the relatively few activities -- the vital 20 percent -- most likely to yield the biggest results.
- Spot early victories. Look for ways to get quick results that demonstrate that you are moving in the right direction:
- Work your network. Make a list of key colleagues, customers and other stakeholders and methodically set up opportunities to visit with them, listening carefully to their input.
- Grasp low-hanging fruit. As you are making the rounds, look for ways you can deliver quick relief or easy-to-achieve improvements. For example, if people say that meetings have been long and pointless, structure a few brief, tightly managed meetings with clear outcomes. If they complain about a lack of information, start a weekly, one-page bulletin.
- Create a plan. Draft and share a plan setting out your goals and key milestones.
- Start a pilot project. When you have an idea of what you want to do, pick the most favorable venue and launch a small initiative that will test and illustrate your approach. Be lavish with your thanks and praise if it succeeds, and learn from any mistakes.
Commit to productive habits. It takes discipline to get off to a great start. Think about the kind of person likely to succeed, and start acting like that person. Identify practices and standards that will make you effective:
- Select productivity tools -- like a calendar, “to do” list and planning approach -- that will keep things moving smoothly.
- Commit to systems and processes. such as those that shape the way you follow up on meetings, thank people for their contributions, answer questions and share information.
- Manage your energy, so that you can be your best, by committing to a schedule of exercise, healthy sleep, down time, and activities that bring you renewal.
- Know yourself. Think about your past performance, get feedback from colleagues you trust, and consider assessments like the Myers-Briggs instrument. Acknowledge your weaker points and be aware of the kinds of tasks and challenges you tend to avoid. Create practices that will build on your strengths and challenge you to overcome your weaknesses.
- Have a plan. “Dive in and sink or swim” is not a great strategy for launching your initiative. To keep you focused and moving forward you need to create some kind of plan. An excellent book to help you craft a road map is Michael Watkins’ “The First 90 Days – Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels.” Although a focus is leadership, the book can serve as an excellent guide for anybody starting a new job.
Want to hear about issues like this? Bev and her colleagues are available to provide coaching and create training sessions, workshops and retreats. Talk to Bev if you’re looking for ways to address topics related to your work life and other challenges and transitions. Meanwhile, read Bev’s Blog check out her website www.ClearWaysConsulting.com.
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