- Your Reputation Is Yesterday’s News – Although your professional experience and accomplishments had everything to do with you getting your new job, they mean nothing to the people who you’ll be leading because they weren't there to see you in action. On your first day, your new manager will probably send a nice note to the department or company stating how excited he is to have you on board. He may even mention your great track record, citing some accomplishments that you probably scripted for him. But unless you’re a family member of the CEO, you’ll need to get big wins under your belt at the new company before you get that “rock star” designation that was previously so familiar. As new leader, your great success in prior roles doesn’t automatically get you on-the-ground and in-the-trenches respect. In fact, raised expectations will make success even harder for you to achieve. Leave your reputation in the past and focus on creating your new list of big wins.
- Be a “Student” First, a “Master” Second – When changing jobs, you know what it’s like to go from “having all of the answers” to “having all of the questions.” In your previous company, you knew how to get things done in that environment i.e. people, process and tools. You also knew a lot about the product and market e.g. customers, competitors, etc. However, any new company is going to be a step back for you on all of these fronts. On top of that, if you are changing industries, say from an on-premise database company to a SaaS applications company, you’ll be in a very steep ramp-up for a while. As eager as you are to make a big impact and as much as you may put pressure on yourself to quickly implement visible change, the worst thing you can do to is to make impulsive decisions without being fully informed. When I was at Hyperion Solutions, Jon Temple joined as the new head of field operations. He spent 3 months meeting with key managers and individual contributors before he laid out his master plan. He was in active learning mode and gathering facts about what worked well and what was broken. Jon’s investment to get the perspective of the team didn’t just help him make better decisions; it rallied people to get behind his plan because they knew it was a fully informed decision.
- Make Deposits in Your (Empty) Goodwill Bank Account - Driving big initiatives in any company requires strong collaboration and influence. But the ability to influence others is something that accrues over time e.g. when you help a colleague hit a critical deadline, when you adjust your priorities to support another organization, or when you give someone advice that makes them look like a corporate hero. Unless you’re working for a company where the executives are “getting the band back together”, you don’t have any of that on Day 1, except that the people who hired you have a vested interest in you being successful. Think of it this way: you have zero “credits in the bank” (also known as “political capital”) and you have to rebuild your “account balance” (relationships, favors, etc.) to get back to the level of influence you had previously. Without support, you will have a hard, lonely, and treacherous path ahead. Make a list, or use the org chart to identify what individuals are most important to your success. Put a plan in place to use your ramp-up period to build those relationships and get some quick wins. And don’t over-commit. If you’re a new sales ops leader working with various sales executives, don’t ask for the laundry-list of things that could be improved and then commit to solve it all in only 30 days. Look for common pain points and pick one or two that you can address within a reasonable time frame. Then your “account balance” will begin to rise quickly.
What other perspectives do you have in preparing for a successful on-boarding? We appreciate your comments.