Tips for Navigating Through a Job Transition

In recent months, I have coached a couple of  individuals as they each transitioned to a new role in a different organization. While they are exceptionally good at what they do and have been picked up by the organizations because of their subject matter expertise, the individuals needed help in coping with their anxiety about the new job.

In the transition phase, the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty is normal. One has to learn new rules of engagement. While some can cope with it, some need help in facing this change. At times the change is not just a change professionally, but also personally.

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success. The study also found that 26% of new hires fail because they can’t accept feedback, 23% because they’re unable to understand and manage emotions, 17% because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15% because they have the wrong temperament for the job, and only 11% because they lack the necessary technical skills.

Aligning to the New Culture

Learning and aligning to the new organization's values and adjusting to a new culture takes time. You can hit the ground running on the technical side of the job, but understanding the dynamics of the organization takes time and patience.

While my coachees were experienced individuals and had a good amount of experience managing teams, they were nervous since they now had larger global teams. The new organization had a matrix reporting structure, making it even more complex for my coachees.

Valley of Despair

Your performance may dip during the transition to the new organization. In the earlier organization, one would have been one of the best performers; but in the new culture and with an increased span of control, the same person may find it difficult to perform at similar levels as before at least in the beginning. This situation could force the person into the valley of despair.

One of my coachees complained about feeling being in the middle of a huge ocean and drifting along. It took several conversations with him to make him understand that he needs to focus on his role and understand the new culture and nuances of the new culture.

Tips for Navigating Through the Transition

The opportunity was too great to pass up. So you accepted the challenge.

The first few days could be a make-or-break situation for you. While you would have gotten the job for your leadership skills or your functional expertise, that by itself is not enough to help you succeed in your new role.

Below are a few tips for navigating through this change.

  • Believe in yourself. Believing in yourself and your core strengths is a key to succeeding in any new job. You will face challenges and may make a few mistakes in the new place, but let that not shake your confidence in yourself. In a hurry to prove yourself, you may commit mistakes. Avoid such things, as all eyes would be on you and will evaluate you.
  • Build working relationships and alliances. Meet people, introduce yourself, turn up for meetings, give your opinions and also support others in their work. Offer your knowledge and experience to add value by assisting people on their projects wherever possible. Don’t just try to impress your seniors, but also build relationships across all levels.Keep your elevator pitch ready to introduce yourself.
  • Stay away from office politics and gossip. Quickly understand the culture and the organization values, but don’t get involved in coffee table gossip.
  • Focus on understanding the new job. Not just the technical aspects but its impact on the overall business. Bid goodbye to your work life balance for some time while you are scaling up and understanding the nuances of the job. Adapt quickly to the new culture and learn to work with virtual teams.
  • Look for opportunities where you can add value immediately. These quick wins will help you establish trust with bosses, peers and teams.
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