After periods of hard work, personal sacrifice, and positioning yourself professionally to land a role at a company you’ve deserved, the feeling of accomplishment and jubilation is one to be relished; however, the reality of what your achievement requires of you can swiftly consume you. Navigating a transition of a new leadership position is often a treacherous journey into uncharted waters met with more questions than answers.
Whether it’s a lateral move within the business you’ve grown with, a compelling opportunity with a new organization, or restructuring of personnel, transition in corporate culture can be a difficult adjustment at first for even the most seasoned leader.
Uncertainty for you and those newly minted direct reports of yours can create a vexing atmosphere around the changeover. Studies show that it can take anywhere from six weeks to four months to feel comfortable in an unfamiliar management post. Settling in on that timeline is a luxury not afforded to all. Most often, the latest overseer of a given department or project has to get acclimated on the fly.
There are many challenges, external and internal, freshly appointed authority figures will confront.
When transitioning to their new assignment, there are a few mental barriers one must overcome. When thrust into this new professional direction, the leader is sans all the information needed to perform his job effectively and doesn’t quite yet have the experience of flexing their emotional inclination on how to connect with their new team. These physiological hurdles can cause stress, isolation, anxiety, and hesitation in the leader’s first steps as the boss.
The leader may have to adapt the cognitive models that have previously served them well in the past. Though, easier said than done, biases, hypotheses, business practices, and operational values must remain agile as the shift continues.
Conflicts regarding seniority may present themselves at the start of your watch. It can take the form of an employee in the department who you will now be leading after they didn’t get your promotion. It will be incumbent upon you to reduce any feelings of your unit who stand slighted while maintaining your authority.
And while at the onset, the onboarding process may be cumbersome, communicatively chaotic, and fast-moving, it’s imperative to recognize that all parties involved have done their due-diligence are all invested in the same outcome of success. Employ these tactics if you find yourself in flux and looking to stabilize your new surroundings.
Exhibit behavior of a leader day one. As stated above, you won’t be privy to all the information on what it will take to perform as an efficient leader out the gate, but you can lead by example on how you address all matters. Referencing mistakes you’ve made in the past and how you learned from them, firmly but in a positive manner identifying the missteps of the previous regime and laying out how you plan to improve upon them, can imbue you to the group. An optimistic yet realistic approach regarding changes can establish trust from your team in uncertain times.
Listen and learn. At the grassroots level to those available atop the chain of command, distinguish what’s working within the company. From the macro or micro level, understanding all the components of your operation may seem daunting, since you’re establishing a home in foreign surroundings; still, it’s foundationally essential to your success as a leader. Management has handed you the reigns because something isn’t realizing it’s full potential, and they imagine you can fix it, so it’s best to keep in mind what is functioning correctly, so you don’t impede its progress.
Additionally, observe your team during a meeting, organize town halls where employees can voice what they’d like to see change during the period of transition, schedule one-on-one’s that are conducted more like a dialogue about office culture than an inquisition of their productivity. Be curious and relentless in asking questions. Devote time weekly to the parts of the business that you aren’t versed in its inner trappings. Just as you thoroughly understood your previous position’s fixtures after time, you’ll need to set yourself up for success from the onslaught of unique information and transformation.
Set the expectations of your performance in the interim and temper your large scale picture vision until the time is right. While you’ll have some built-in breathing room cache as you delve into your new office, it’s important to present what you expect of yourself transparently and sincerely. It will take some time to understand the nuanced concerns and inefficiencies that face your business, don’t hastily proclaim visions as it could call your integrity into question down the line.
Earn some office culture and credibility swiftly. There are immediate renovations you can make instantly to boost morale or use as a springboard to build momentum as you tackle more significant issues down the road. Identify these easily accessible mini-victories and act on them.
Ask for advice. In the past, a leader asking for help may have come across as a weakness, but now it signifies a leader who wants their team to solve problems collaboratively. All boats rise with the tide.
Though expectations and demand of you will change, your work ethic and perseverance will serve as your ballast as you traverse the choppy yet exhilarating waters of a new expanse for you to explore professionally.