There are many professionals out there who stay in their jobs (even if they don’t like them) just because they are afraid to start a new role with a new employer. As executive search consultants, we understand that it can be overwhelming adapting to a new position, developing new relationships, and assimilating into a new culture. For each placed candidate, we offer advice on how to successfully transition to their new role. While each professional, position, and organization is unique, there are behaviors that support a smooth process:
Acclimate to the organization's corporate culture: The most important thing you can do during your first week, month, and quarter is to assimilate into the culture and environment of the organization. Accomplish this by observing behaviors and communication patterns.
Be positive: Show excitement for your new role and you will exude confidence. Your positivity and enthusiasm will make a great impression and may even bring a new energy to the organization.
Listen and learn: Show your willingness to learn about the company beyond your job and responsibilities. "I encourage my placed candidates to become as knowledgeable as possible about their new organizations,” says Rick Nawoczynski, Senior Managing Consultant with Helbling & Associates. “I recommend that they keep their minds open to suggestions from colleagues who have been with the organization for a number of years because those people can provide invaluable insight and knowledge. By combining that understanding with their own skills and experiences, they can add significant value to their new employer. Lastly, if they're in a management position, I suggest they keep an open door policy. It is the one of the best management styles there is.”
Remember that you are new: It's critical to understand why you were hired and the skills that made you attractive. Keep in mind that while you may have the capabilities and talent to perform admirably, it’s best to wait until you thoroughly understand the company’s procedures and operations before bringing up new and improved ways of doing things. On another note, although it's great to volunteer for extra responsibilities, in most organization, it's best to stick to your job description during your first few months because you want to make sure not to step on anyone’s toes. However, if you are asked to do something outside of your realm of responsibilities, take it as an opportunity to show that you are a team player and happily perform the task.
Be open to constructive criticism: Again, remember that you are new and accept the potential for you to make mistakes. Use them as opportunities to learn and to do better the next time, and be open to constructive criticism. You want to do well and by receiving constructive criticism, you will be able to improve. You also want others to feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts.
Be social and build relationships: Connecting with your new team is imperative. Even if you don't have an outgoing personality, do your best to get to know your colleagues, join them during lunches and team outings, and if you're in an office, keep your door open.
Seek out a mentor: The best way to familiarize with a new role, company, and its culture is to develop a relationship with a professional who can act as your mentor.
Create goals: Make sure there is clarity about your 3 and 6 month expectations. While these were probably discussed during the interview process, confirm them during your first week on the job. In addition, develop your own goals for achieving success early on and fitting in with the company and your team. Make sure your objectives are appropriate and, if necessary, cover them with your direct report before spending time on them.
Keep your private life just that - private: While you will eventually make friends within your new company, it's best to keep your personal life and opinions private until you get to know others better.
Jumpstart the onboarding process yourself: Jim Lord, one of Helbling's Managing Directors, says, “The onboarding process can be eased by contacting your future employer prior to your first day to get any paperwork that could be completed in advance. Additionally, asking for any work or information that you can review or meetings that you can attend while finishing out your notice period with your previous employer can help ensure that you hit the ground running with your new employer. It also gets you engrained in the company earlier.”
These recommendations are a great start for making your transition into a new role and organization a smooth one. But, if you're a senior executive, professionals like yourself can have even more difficulty with career transitions. When you accept a new offer, you are expected to go into an organization and start getting things done immediately, while at the same time, developing positive relationships with your team and colleagues.