THE big change has happened. And you are happy that you made the decision to switch to a more interesting, challenging and senior position in a new company. That’s the simpler part. A few days into it, and what looked glamorous and exciting from the outside, is suddenly starting to appear a wee bit trickier than before. You’re the rank outsider nobody seems to want around, and you don’t have time for this nonsense. After all, there’s work to be done, and you need to prove that you’re every bit worth the fat package your new employer paid to acquire you.
Welcome to reality. It’s a whole new game that you need to learn and adapt. Time is certainly not on your side, so it’s critical to get your act together from Day One. Here are a few points that can help you manage the transition into a new company.
Focus on relationships from Day One
No matter how long you may have worked in organizations, the truth is that managing people and interpersonal relationships remains the most difficult part of any leadership role. Each instance can be different from the other and no amount of theoretical frameworks and even experience can prepare you for some situations. Building relationships is your single most important task. Visit people outside your team and spend time listening to how they work, and what difficulties they encounter in dealing with your team or department. Offer to help with solutions, if any.
Clarify, clarify, and clarify
Nothing is more dangerous than ambiguity. Before you start, clarify up front what your role definition would be. What the expectations of the organization are from you, the timelines for those deliverables and what resources would be made available to you to help achieve them.
Easier said than done? Most likely, this wouldn’t be handed to you on a platter, so demand clarity. It’s also in your own best interests to have measurement parameters in place. As you begin benchmarking your team’s and your own performance against these parameters, work will start to become more challenging and enjoyable.
Don’t be in a hurry to make a big impression
When you are in an alien environment, the easiest way to get everyone to notice you is to make a big splash with a new project, propose to change processes that you think are old and redundant or redesign structures that come in the way of efficiency. Don’t even think about it, because it’s sure to ruffle a lot of feathers and, of course, get you nowhere. Be realistic about the scope of your new role. Give yourself some time to learn the processes and systems and how people work. Patience can be your best virtue here. Allow yourself a few small victories, though.
That will boost your own morale and that of your team, who would be looking up to you.
Understand the Power Networks and Who Matters
Formal organisational positions hardly indicate who’s really in charge. It’s often a core group that gets things done around the place. So carefully observe and figure out the powers that pull the strings and influence key decisions. These could take the form of unofficial ‘shadow boards’ that could consist of members of the formal board of directors, influential shareholders or even outside parties. Understanding this can determine how much and how fast you can execute on your plan, and make all the difference to your success as a senior executive.
And finally, take a positive approach to your work. Be clear that you have come to work and deliver on the agreed upon work targets. Do not allow yourself to be bogged down by the politics and the negative people around you. Rest assured there will be plenty of naysayer and trouble makers trying to pull you down. It’s, therefore, important that you stay moored to your goals and objectives, and cut out the noise. Enthusiasm is rare these days, so keep the cheerfulness going.
Stay True to Yourself
Even as you are doing all of the above, make sure that your actions are above board. Resist the temptation to take shortcuts or measures that could put you or your team in an ethical bind. When everything else fails, it is your own sense of values that will stand you in good stead.