Switching jobs is often bittersweet. It’s exciting to be starting something new, working with different people, and experiencing new challenges. But at the same time, it often brings with it discomfort, ambiguity, and uncertainty. And in many cases, you may feel like you’re either doing two jobs for a while, or that you’re still too involved in your old role to really move forward.
For me, one of the biggest challenges is feeling like I’m starting at square one. It feels like I know nothing, have little to contribute, and can’t add value. For an achievement-focused person like me, that’s not a good feeling!
That being said, I know that while the learning curve is steep, I learn so much and will be more and more up to speed each day. As one of my favourite quotes goes, the magic is outside of your comfort zone! (And this blog is all about that anyhow.)
With that in mind, here are 5 simple ways to really conquer your role transition and hit the ground running in your new job.
#1. Be humble and curious…
You won’t have all (or many!) of the answers, so don’t pretend that you do. Ask plenty of questions, soak it all in, and have an open mind. Things may be done differently than you’re used to, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong.
My post Why it Really Pays to be a Curious Person offers some additional inspiration on the value of asking questions.
#2. …but don’t sell yourself short.
You may be new, but you are in that role for a reason and bring your own knowledge, skills, and experience to the table. Draw on this and try not to doubt your abilities. If you find yourself slipping into self doubt, adopt the “fake it til you make it” mantra!
#3. Focus on the people.
Identify who your key contacts and partners will be and make an effort with them. This could be anything from scheduling a transition chat or coffee, sending a friendly note saying that you’re looking forward to working with them, or warmly introducing yourself at a meeting. People will want to help you if you invest in understanding their goals and priorities.
And if you’re interested in learning more about how to be a superb collaborator, check out my post Effective Collaboration: How to Be an Amazing Team Player.
#4. Understand the big picture.
With so much to learn and absorb, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. Understanding the overall scope and components of your role and/or a project you’re involved with serves several purposes:
First, it shows that you are a big picture thinker who can see the forest through the trees. Second, it provides you with a compass to guide your decision making. And third, it acts as a framework to the specifics of the project, making it easier to grasp and digest a ton of (often seemingly fragmented!) concepts.
#5. Play to your strengths.
As you learn more about the role and responsibilities, give some thought as to the areas in which you can add the most and/or immediate value. These may be small, tactical things, or simply your working style (e.g. turning around document reviews quickly or facilitating meetings well).
By leaning in on these elements, you can establish credibility from your stakeholders quickly in a way that is authentic to you and to your approach as a business partner.
I’d love to hear both your experiences in role transition and what skills you drew on to make them successful. Sound off in the comments!
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These are really good tips. I’ve seen new managers and staff flounder when they arrive somewhere new and miss steps 1, 3 and 4. With staff, it’s not so bad if the work is fairly independent. Newly-arrived managers, on the other hand, can expect a revolt if they ignore your suggestions.
This list should be given to every new employee or every person taking on a new role.