This week, Jane Porter featured my input in her Wall Street Journal article (Careers D-2) entitled “New Job, Same Firm: Learning the Ropes.” I thought it would be helpful to link you here, and to review some of the thoughts I shared about the challenge of switching roles in the same organization. Whether from re-structuring, downsizing fall-out, or a promotion, taking a new job is sometimes tackled without trouble-shooting potential problems or navigating the “white space on the organizational chart,” and after all, that’s a lot of what Organizational and Political Savvy is about. Here are some quick tips…
Be Thankful. “At least I HAVE a job to complain about!” Ahhhh, a familiar refrain these days, eh? One very real outgrowth of our economic turmoil is massive re-organization, which results in many people being transferred, so if your new position is not one you sought, you’ll benefit from focusing on the benefit of even having a job in these tough times for many. If you are bummed out, don’t “wear it” or you’ll be quickly branded as a pessimist, cynic, Pig Pen type character from the Peanuts comic strip and be doomed before you start. Literally count your blessings by reminding yourself of all that’s positive in the new gig, without being in denial.
Role Clarity. The section Jane Porters discusses on “Talk it Out” and later on about “Learn to Let Go” both involve the need to communicate clearly with both bosses–– the old and new–– about time-lines, transition plans, residue responsibilities and potential lag-over tasks that will fall between the cracks if you don’t nail down who’s truly accountable. Like it or not, you could be blamed for unfinished business and simply saying “Well, it’s not my job anymore” won’t cut it these days when mutual accountability, going above and beyond, and avoiding cop-outs are watchwords of achieving more with less in companies. So demonstrate proactive, preventative thinking about what might go wrong or get lost in the shuffle, leaving the enterprise vulnerable. Be a hero while protecting and running interference for yourself by getting clarity on who’s taking over for you, how available for coaching and help you’re expected to be, and how you’ll be able to re-negotiate new job assignments based on the degree of old-job demands you are sucked needed to tackle.
Don’t Assume the Unwritten Rules are the Same. The mere price of admission these days is to achieve results. That’s a given. The true determinant of success really comes in understanding the unwritten rules, hidden norms, and “real score card” for success. Try to learn the ropes in your new job in case informal expectations are different regarding meetings, taboos, conflict management, feedback, reporting protocol or formats, leadership priorities, hours and punctuality, work ethic, life balance, pet peeves of the boss, team communication, cooperation and manager preferences, etc. You don’t want to unwittingly commit career suicide or go on someone’s you-know-what list by not being in the loop about unwritten rules. Quickly build a network to get the inside scoop on how to survive and thrive in the new environment.
Remember Essential Networks. Remember the old adage, “Make new friends and keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold?” Well, double down on that bet! So many job transfers result in people’s falling out of touch with old stakeholders, colleagues, friends, and other network members. We need to cultivate and maintain both old and new purposeful relationships not only for the pure enjoyment of the interactions, and to help and support one another (yes, there IS such a thing as Corporate Karma), but also because you never know when you’ll need the old network to advocate for an idea, endorse your credibility, or partner on a new cross-organizational initiative. Besides, with the amount of organizational volatility going on, who’s your boss or colleague going to be next week?!