So you overcame your comfort feelings and ventured beyond the everyday grind of the familiar. You applied to some new organization/ department for a different role. And you made it!! Congratulations are in order. Not just because you have taken a giant leap of faith, but also because you think about your career and have an intent backed with action around what needs to be done to get where you where you want to be. You are in a minority, you know! Because, most people just choose the familiar, the comfortable and then stagnate. So heartiest congratulations for your new role in a new setting.
How does it feel? Butterflies? Well, you are not alone! Most leaders admit to feeling nervous/ anxious when entering a new organization laterally and some even say that they feel like an imposter!
Here are 5 things to keep in mind that may help you settle in sooner than others:
You must create your own induction program: Most induction programs are very sketchy/ badly planned or entirely missing! Its true! But, that does not make them less important. In fact, it is the most important thing to sit down with your HR - Business Partner and chalk out an induction plan to suit your learning needs. You can choose to go with what they have and later suggest some additional requirements or you can sit with them and plan the "must-dos" to make your transition easier. Go with whatever will help you quickly understand the organization, its business model, its clients and your place in the organization.
2. There were others eyeing your role: Its true that there must be one or two people in the company who were aspiring for your role when you came in. Envy is not a great way to start, is it? I have seen that a lot of lateral hires eye such people as internal competition, feel uncomfortable around them and second guess them all the time. A smarter strategy would be to reach out to them in all humility and forge a new friendship. They have been in the organization long and know a lot about the inner workings. Get them on your side by respecting that experience rather than mistrusting them.
3. Do you know that winning hearts is part of your role? : Chances are that the team you have inherited has been waiting for you to join for a while ( maybe 3-6 months). They are filled with anticipation and are very keen to meet the new boss. They will be watching your every move like a hawk, gauging your responses and concluding about you. Its quite unfair to judge a book by its cover, but the reality is that we all do. So, if you have to win hearts you must be careful never to dismiss the work done by your predecessor as unimportant or irrelevant. The predecessor may have moved on, but the team is still there. And they need to feel valued above everything else. Go with an open mind and find things to appreciate about each and every member of your newly acquired team.
4. Change must be bite sized: Many leaders are hired with a mandate to turn around things and show results as of yesterday. The Big Boss is always impatient! Rather than give in to the pressure and make sweeping changes in how the team or the department functions, recognize that people take time to buy in the need to change. It is more prudent to sit with the Big Boss and negotiate on timelines rather than push things down the throat of people who are supposed to implement change. The last thing you want is that your team digs in their heels in quiet non-cooperation or rebels openly, undermining your credibility from the word go. Having your team on your side is the biggest investment in making the change happen seamlessly.
5. There's no such thing as Over-communication!: Many lateral hires are very overwhelmed with the demands of a new role in a new organization and choose to work in their cabins all day long, while people outside are waiting.... Make the time to communicate to all stakeholders about the way you are assimilating things. This may sound counter-intuitive because we have learned to keep our cards close to our chest till we have figured things out and we don't want to look like a fool, but being transparent with your team, peers and superiors in a new environment could help you to validate your thought process as well as gain everyone's confidence. It will also lead to any missing information being revealed and give you a hint if you need to course correct. Remember, ambiguity leads to fear and inactivity while communication leads to clarity and action!
With these 5 tips at hand, you will get to a good start for sure. Be patient and every time you feel you have made a mistake don't be too hard on yourself. Just shake off the dust and move on. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone has the guts to try new things and you just did that by getting yourself a new role in a new organization. So congratulations once again!! And wish you a speedy settling in!
About the author:
Yoshita Swarup Sharma is an executive coach who specializes in enabling leaders transition into senior and top leadership roles with ease and grace. Role transitions are a very important milestone in any career and it does get lonely at the top! So reach out to her, if you think you need support in your own career transition or in helping senior or high potential leaders in your organization get ready for their career moves.