Recently I started a new job as a result of a promotion and as I stepped into the role I wanted to be intentional around the things I wanted to do and accomplished in the first 30 days in the job. No matter if you are stepping into a new role as a result of a promotion, a lateral move within the same company or if you are switching companies, what I have learned is that that first month in the job is critical to set yourself and your team for success.
When starting a new job you can feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to learn. You might feel pressured to start performing and delivering results right away, especially if you got this job as a result of a promotion, as you might want to demonstrate to your boss and everyone around that they indeed made the right decision by promoting you and putting you in the role. The truth is that you'll have enough time to do that, right now there are other things you should focus on. Trying to jump at all the day to day things part of the role and start getting things done can distract you from what matters most during that first month in the job.
Here are the ten things I personally focused on when stepping in my role. By sharing them, I hope you finds inspiration next time you step into a role.
Schedule time with your manager to set expectations. I believe this is something everyone should do right away when stepping into a new role. You want understand what are your manager's expectations both around the working relationship as well as the performance expectation of you in the role. Spend some time preparing for this meeting and writing down a series of questions that will help you better understand your manager's expectations. I suggest you apply the golden rule, that is, spend double the time preparing for the meeting than the time the meeting will actually take. Listen to episode 8 of my podcast for suggestions on questions you might want to consider in this meeting.
Get to know the team. I believe this is very important. We spent more time at work than we do at home, therefore establishing a trusting relationship with the members of your team is key to create a work environment in which both you and your team will enjoy working in. My strategy here was to schedule one-on-one meetings with each member in the team. I took some out for lunch or a coffee to create a more informal environment. You want to get to know your team at a personal level. I didn't had an agenda for this meetings, but rather just took the time to get to know them as they are. The intent was not to become their best friend on day one, that maybe will never happen and I want to keep the relationship professional, but that doesn't mean you don't get to know them for who they are. What is most important is that you do it genuinely.
Pay close attention to the team dynamics. After getting to know team member individually is also important to pay attention to the dynamics of the team. How did I went about it? Well, for me this meant attending as many team meetings as possible, even though those might be meetings I will not be attending on a regular basis. For me was important to attend these meetings for two main reasons. On one hand it allow me to better understand who does what in the team and what are the key topics and priorities the team is working on. On the other hand, it allowed me to observe the dynamics in the team. How people interact with each other, who typically takes the lead, who asks the most questions, who is quiet in meetings, who goes out of their way to help others, etc. All those things are very important, especially if you are in a leadership position because one of your key responsibilities is to create the work environment in which your team can thrive.
Set expectations and working norms for the team. Expectations go both ways. I believe is very important, especially if you are in a leadership role, to know what the team expects of you and for them to understand what you expect of them. Like on the conversation you had on day on with your new manager, you want to set expectations not only around performance but you also want to discuss the working norms in the team. What do I mean by that? I am referring to the team dynamics. My suggestion is that you start by listening to your team expectations before share your expectation of them.
If your predecessor is still working in the same company, set time aside with him/her. This might sound obvious, but you'll be surprise how many people don't do this. My recommendation here, like I suggested when meeting with your manager is that you spend double the time preparing for this meeting than the time the meeting will actually take. Be conscious of the other person's time, at the end of the day you have the vested interest in learning as much as you can from this person. Listen to episode number 8 of the Leading Yourself podcast for tips on how to prepare for this meeting and what questions to ask in order to take the most out of the time with your predecessor.
Identify who are the key stakeholders in your new role and set expectations with each of them. It's important that you make the time to identify all the key stakeholders in your new role. Some will be obvious, and you probably already have meet with them, like your boss or your team; but I challenge you to write down a list of all your customers (internal and/or external) and all other stakeholders that are impacted by your the work you and/or your team will be doing. One you have write all the names down, prioritize them and set up time to introduce yourself and set expectations both ways.
Learn the business. This is going to be key for your success. If you want to make an impact in your organization and team, you need to learn the business first. This might look differently depending on the business you are in, but in general I would say, you want to learn what are the product and services your company, division and/or department offer, who are your customers and competition, what are the strengths and weakness as a business, who are the key players, what is the business strategy and how profit is generated. Depending on your level in the organization, the level of detail and depth you might want to go may vary, but I firmly believe that no matter your position or level in the organization, having a general understanding of the business is key in order for you to be able to be successful in your role and add value to your team and organization.
Ask a lot of questions. There are no stupid questions, except those you don't ask. Now is the time to ask questions, a lot of them. Don't be shy, everyone will understand that you have questions, so take the opportunity now to ask them.
Be open to learn. When you step into a new role you need to do it with humility, realizing you don't know everything. You will learn by asking questions but also by observing and talking to others. Making a conscious effort to learn the job, learn the business and the people is key in these first 30 days to help set yourself for success in the long run.
Get organized. It can be overwhelming when you start a new role and at the beginning can feel a little chaotic until you get in the rhythm of things: what meetings will fill your calendar, what are the topics in your plate, what are the key topics and priorities; all those things you have been learning in these first month. It's time to get organize and think how you want to organize your calendar and agenda so you can be the most efficient and effective in your new role.
I hope you found these tips helpful and that you found inspiration on what things you might want to keep in mind next time you step into a new role.