Making Your New Role a Success

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I hear a lot of conversations in my community about how to land the next job, but much less on what happens when you are in a new role.  This post draws on the experience of a number of my clients who have taken on new roles over the last 18 months, often as a result of the coaching work that we have done together.

One important factor – finding a job is not the same as finding the “right” job.  The more you know about yourself and your skills and passions going into a job search, the better the results.  I have enabled clients to understand who they are at their best, and as a result they have sought out and chosen roles that provide them with the opportunity to be that person.

Here are some approaches that I have worked on with my clients:

  • Starting something new can be exciting but can also create some anxiety about how things might unfold.  Take strength from what is constant in your life – your family, your friends, your beliefs, your passions.
  • If you know who you are at your best, determine how you demonstrate it in the first 30/60/90 days.  I have one client who is very creative, and she consciously finds ways to demonstrate her creativity above and beyond the line items in her job description.
  • Create a plan to be successful, but don’t be so rigid that you can’t adapt it to the new environment.  Align the plan to your values and your priorities – so that even if you change the plan, that alignment still exists.
  • Know what needs to be different from where you’ve come from.   I can think of a recent client who was very successful in a previous role, but had to adjust his approach after encountering a more complicated political environment in his new role.
  • Learn as much as you can about the new environment, be ready to adapt any pre-conceived strategies or plans.  As an example, I had one client eager to make a difference by working for a non-profit that they believed in – they assumed any role would be OK as the cause was so important to them.  As we reflected, she realized that the role didn’t leverage her skills and experience, and potentially wouldn’t sustain her interest.  She adjusted her focus to roles that would leverage her skills and experience, and found a meaningful role.
  • Set expectations with the people around you about what you plan to do – this not only helps manage expectations but also gives you the opportunity to articulate what you plan to do.
  • Articulate the new you as frequently as you can – in my own case, I talked about my success in enabling teams to work together more effectively by understanding their temperaments and how these can be leveraged to create high performing teams.  This has been a very successful strategy for me.

Overall I see two essential pre-requisites for successfully adapting to a new role.  First, the role should be a place where you can leverage your strengths and do the things you do well.  Second is that once you are there, you need to proactively manage yourself into your new identity.

Several sources if you are looking for further guidance.  There’s everybody’s favorite business book in the early 2000s – Michael Watkins’ the First Ninety Days, where he articulates the idea that you only have 90 days to make a difference in a new role.  There are also a number of authors who write about change management (e.g. John Kotter, William Bridges) identifying strategies to accelerate change.   And if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read here, I’m

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