How to start a new job on the right foot

Starting afresh can be a thrill but make sure you're well prepared.

by Rebecca Alexander
Last Updated: 08 Sep 2016

If, like me, you thrill to the sight of freshly sharpened pencils lying alongside a blank page, then you probably enjoy the idea of a fresh start. The chance to break with the past and create a more considered future rarely fails to appeal. At work, this is something we get to do regularly as we move roles or organisations. Yet there's often so much happening at the point of transition that we rarely plan how we'd like our new normal to look. Here are some ideas to get you going:

It's all in the preparation. Yes, you will reach your first 100-days milestone, but how will you know how you're doing if you haven't set out in advance what 'success' looks like? Decide now, before leaving your current role, what your personal markers of success are and how you'll know whether you've achieved them. I can't tell you how much easier this will be to do now, before the details and deadlines of your new role have laid claim to your free thinking time. Write your objectives down.

Audit your past. Looking back over your current job, ask yourself the following: What did I do well? What could I have done better? What must I avoid in future? Use the answers to create a vision of what you'd like to replicate in your new position, what you can improve, and what you must stop doing.

Now think about those you'll be working with. Look up, outwards and down at managers, peers and direct reports. Where are you strongest? What do you need to work on? Consider what you can do to improve your reach all round.

How will you introduce yourself? Some of my coaching clients like to present themselves to their new team with a short speech. This might cover their job history and their plans for their new role. Others take it further and add some or all of the following: how they like to manage and be managed; their weaknesses; their strengths; their values. Obviously this isn't for everyone, but before you dismiss it, consider what you might borrow from this approach. Would it be useful for your new team to know how you like to work? Would you like them to feel able to call you out? What kind of relationship would you like to cultivate? If presentations aren't for you, consider one-to-ones, phone calls and small group meetings.

Consider what challenges your new role will pose to you personally. If there are aspects of the job that worry you, plan now how to accommodate that. Do you need more resources, more training, more information? Can you gather a particular support team around you? Do you need a coach to help you to pull together your thinking? Make a plan for the tough times.

Finally, recognise that you will need time for all of the above. With your schedule in front of you, block out a half-day right now for some thinking time. Make it somewhere nice - at home, a cafe, a place that inspires you to think expansively and with clarity. The future with all its opportunity awaits. Be ready to grasp it.

Rebecca Alexander is an executive coach at The Coaching Studio. 


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