Getting to grips with a new role

Today I am introducing my gorgeous new grandson Elliot, born 24 June 2015.

His mum and dad, Alexa and Sean, now have important new roles in their lives. And now I’m a Granny – a new role for me. I’m wondering what being a good Granny might involve.

It is a role that will grow over time – Elliot has no expectations of me yet, but I have lots of expectations of him, including lots of cuddles! This is the first one:)

It’s the same when we take on a new role at work – lots of hopes and expectations, lots of unknowns and uncertainties.

In her new book ‘Act like a leader, think like a leader‘, INSEAD Professor Herminia Ibarra says ‘When you are faced with a new role that is very different from anything you have done before, you can’t think your way into it. You have to experiment and act your way into it.”

“Thinking only brings you back to the past,” she explains. “It’s doing something you’ve done before, it reinforces your competency traps and your old way of seeing the world, which is precisely what you’re trying to get beyond.”

Even if you’re moving to a new job in the same organisation ‘the way things are done around here’ may be different. A new boss, a different department, a new team to manage. How can you minimise the uncertainties, especially when you don’t know what you don’t know?

A good place to start out is to ask questions and agree some ground rules with your manager.

Some organisations, especially large ones, have formal induction or onboarding processes and assign you a colleague as a buddy. If you’re in a newly created job or the only person in a specific location, you may have to find out things for yourself and learn by trial and error.

If you’re in a new job you generally don’t get long to start making an impact, build important relationships, understand what is expected of you. That is especially true the more senior your role.

So how can you minimise mistakes and learn what you need to make a success of your new role?

  • Take one day at a time
  • Listen and ask lots of questions
  • Take notes – you will be absorbing a lot of new information
  • Make no assumptions – check things out
  • Find out how much freedom/autonomy you have to make your own decisions/choices
  • Ask how your line manager would like you to work with them
  • Look after yourself – making a transition can feel exhausting!

Starting a new job or changing career is a great time to work with a coach or mentor. At the beginning it’s useful to have a sounding board as you may not know who to ask about certain things.  You may also fear creating a negative impression or looking stupid.

Having someone completely objective to talk things through with can really help when you are getting to grips with your new role. If this strikes a chord with you, get in touch.

With Elliot I’ll be learning as I go and probably making a few mistakes, but I am definitely looking forward to building a strong relationship with him – and can’t wait for our next cuddle!

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