Starting a new role? What can I do before I start?
Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back. – Babe Ruth
I like to be organised and prepared prior to the commencement of a new role. I do this by clarifying the role, expectations of the role and the resources that will be assigned to me in any new position. Clarifying the role is important. I want to be clear on what I am meant to do about the role prior to my commencement with the organisation. I also try to access the capability framework and prepare some talking points to navigate the discussion with my new manager.
Then I discuss the big issues and opportunities I need to tackle. What is the timeframe and who are the resources that I will be working with to achieve these initiatives? During this conversation I learn about the resources, regarding people, partnerships, budgets, and infrastructure. The likelihood of success goes up with clear roles, expectations, and resources. If they aren’t clearly defined, it can be a sign of potential issues and trouble with the role or your future boss.
If I am leading a particular project or programme, I try to learn as much as I can by asking for existing documentation, presentations SOPs, analysis, organisational charts, and financial and operational data relating to the project or program of work. Similarly, before starting a new role, send the senior leader a ‘data request’. This will get you up to speed and signal to them that you want to hit the ground running. Once the data starts rolling in, read and absorb as much as you can and start a log of questions hypotheses, and other data that could be helpful. You can learn a great deal about an organisation and business through a data request.
Set up the first few weeks by focusing on building relationships and learning. I typically schedule 15–20-minute conversations with members of my team, peers, leadership, internal customers, and other important stakeholders. I create simple interview guides to help with structuring the conversations. I cover questions like, ‘what are your role and accountabilities?’ ‘What are the biggest issues and opportunities with the team?’ ‘If you were in my shoes, what would your plan be?’ You can learn a lot about the organisation by keeping the questions open-ended and focused on the other person’s ideas. Also, make sure to get the important weekly or monthly meetings into your schedule.
These are some of the concepts and actions I undertake before stepping into a new role. In our next article we will outline and discuss how to create success in the first 100 days of your new role.
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