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Ready… Set… Go!
By Kate Farley
How do you start a new role quickly, effectively and make an impact?
So, you’ve met with your new client/employer: got a reasonable understanding of their needs and expectations; agreed that there’s a good skills and values match; identified what you can bring to make a difference; and, signed up for a start date in a few days time: How do you get into the role and start delivering as soon as possible?
Here’s my simple New Start Checklist
If possible, I try and meet with the person who previously did this job, or a similar role (or if not in person, then a phone conversation, or e-mail request for them to do me some briefing notes) to add to my understanding of the role, the organisation, the people and the challenges.
I will already have done some research to prepare for the initial interview/client meeting, but I’ll revisit and enhance this by: doing a search for recent news about the organisation, look at their website, find out about the key people I’ll be working with, and highlight a few first impressions as a guide to what’s most important right now.
I’ll craft a message for when I meet new colleagues, who may be thinking:
“Why are you here?”
- As a safe pair of hands during a transition; or
- To bring a particular expertise to a specific task; or,
- To deliver an urgently needed change; or…?
And to give them confidence in what I bring and how they can work with me – what’s relevant to tell them about my recent experience, career history, expectations, values and management style?
My reading list will vary by assignment, but will probably include: corporate strategy, departmental budget, performance indicators, structure chart, annual delivery plan, project brief…as soon as I can get access to them, preferably in advance of starting on site.
5. IT and Business Support
It’s not often possible to sort out IT access, laptop, user name, outlook (or equivalent) and phone in advance, so I try and book time with IT on the first day, so they can make time and support available. Its also useful to meet early on, any Executive Assistants or Business Support staff who can help with booking meetings, rooms and equipment and help you identify who to meet next.
If they haven’t done so, I’ll arrange a meeting with my manager (or client contact) in the first week to talk through draft objectives, and confirm level of authority and reporting arrangements. I think there are 3 dimensions: 1. a sense of the person, their pressures and priorities; 2. What you can bring to make a difference; and, 3. clarity about what, how and when. But, I prefer to keep these as draft objectives, for a short while, until I get to know the key issues.
7. Meet and Greet
I aim to introduce myself to all my immediate work contacts, in the first week, putting faces to names and places on the organisational chart. I use the de Bono trick of enriching the name and image of my colleague with an extreme or humourous association, to fix it in my memory.
[Try not to use rude ones in case they ask! But here’s an example: Tom Smith in Finance >> Tom Thumb + Blacksmith = jumping around holding the sore thumb he’s just hit with his hammer, causing coins to fall out of his pockets.]
I’ll follow up initial introductions, by booking 1:1s over the first 2-3 weeks; log which days I will be at the client’s site (or not); and, ask my new colleagues to invite me to all the standing meetings and any other meetings which they think I’ll find useful. And then sort out diary clashes asap to prevent letting new colleagues down.
By the end of the 3rd week, I’ll have a few early goals and key dates diaried, such as:
- Feedback to client on learning and issues found
- Update/complete objective plan
- 100-day review of achievements so far
- Briefing for colleagues
10. Ask, Look, Listen
The start of a new assignment is a great time to ask and listen. It’s tempting, as an experienced interim, having worked in my field for over 30 years, to make assumptions, jump to early conclusions, think I’ve seen it before and know the answers. I try and put that to one side and check my understanding, so that my learning, proposals and actions are specific to each client. Breaching unwritten ‘rules’ can get a new start off on the wrong foot, so I observe and ask about: dress code, where to eat lunch, hot-desking (v. territory), punctuality, e-mail norms, humour, etc.