What do you do when you start a new job? I get a similar question another day on Quora: “What was the hardest thing about starting a new job, after you’ve worked for the same company for so long?”
Apparently, humans hate changes. This trait plays out almost everytime when we talk about our jobs. Most of us hate changing jobs. And we hate it most when we hear rumours about changes happening in our workplace. All these never fail to unnerve us, to say the least.
Everything that we are familiar with gets uprooted when we switch our career. Our boss, colleagues, the feeling of fake seniority, among others.
Considering the amount of time taken up by our jobs in our lives, can we blame ourselves for the fear? I remember myself spending 60 hours a week on my last job as a General Manager, working out short and medium-term solutions, while my wife and son only saw me once every fortnight.
But here comes the sadistic truth. You can’t afford to stay put just because you hate changes? Look at the once strong and stable companies like Kraft Heinz. This year itself, the stock price plummets 35 % within the first 6 months in 2019.
The fact is, even if you refuse to leave, you will see an employer relieving you from your work, if you happen to stay long enough. Therefore, what are you going to do if you do start a new job?
Let’s approach this question from a medium manager’s perspective. Approaching this at a lower level is meaningless because, at that level, you can’t do much. Your boss will arrange your orientation and your job scope. On the other hand, if we approach this at too high a level, some of you may not see the point of view as a senior manager.
DEVELOP PLANS FOR THE IMMEDIATE AND MEDIUM TERM
Remember the research that you did before the interview? Well, it’s not the endgame after getting the job. You have obviously impressed during the dialogue with your new bosses, and they want you to deliver.
Go beast mode into in-depth research of the departmental operation that you are going to lead.
If you are taking charge of the production line of a manufacturing plant, identify the wheres and the whats about the bottlenecks, saving potentials, time wasters etc. Now, I’m sure you know what to look out for since you are hired for this.
DEVELOP TRUST WITH YOUR IMMEDIATE BOSS
This is the most critical part of the whole paradox of starting a new job. If you fail this, regardless of how good you are, you are toast.
Danny Kwok (another fictional name) was hired as a new VP of Operation of a food production company. Initially, everything was going as planned. He took his time to analyze the financial and the operation of the manufacturing plant while waiting for his predecessor to leave in a month duration.
His relationship with the former VP was great. The latter even took Danny during the transition to introduce the former to all the stakeholders in the business. The regional CEO was in charge of Danny’s business unit, which was big enough to be a standalone company by itself.
An unfortunate turning point happened during an email exchange with the CEO. While Danny was persistently getting to know some existing policies, the CEO became irritated and blasted an email criticizing him for asking too many questions. A few other members of the higher management were in the email.
The relationship soured from that point. Although Danny managed to excel in the job, he lost his respect for the CEO. The CEO went so far as to delay his confirmation period using a minor incident as a reason from Danny lowering a preservative dosage.
A new manager may avoid a possible clash with his direct superior with more communication. Schedule extra meetings with your boss early into your new job. Avoid making any changes to an existing protocol before consulting your boss. Hate your boss at your own peril.
Both the new manager and the boss need to respect each other for the relationship to work. Trust me, this is not as easy as you think. Many people quit the job they love owing to their awkward relationship with their direct supervisor.
EARN THE TRUST OF YOUR SUBORDINATES
While you are mindful of your boss when you start a new job, your direct reports too, are trying to read you. Having a good working relationship with your subordinates is part and parcel of your job scope.
Some “experienced” advisors may advise someone new on the job to refrain from disrupting the old ways of doing things too early. Their advice will be along the line of, “let’s take one thing at a time.” Unfortunately, I would beg to differ.
Your workers expect changes when you walk into their lives uninvited. However, convince them that you are initiating changes that will be good for everybody.
I still remember entering the production area for the first time after scoring my first managerial position as the Bakery Manager. The then Chief Baker walked up to me and told me straight in the face to get out from his kitchen.
Anyway, he went on to become my strongest ally after I helped the bakery department to grow the revenue by more than a two-fold. I always gave credit to him for the sales improvement because of his team’s cooperation.
The truth is, all sane employees want to be on the good side of their boss. If you face certain opposition immediately after taking up a new job, try not to take that as a direct challenge. Your subordinates may just be trying to get your attention in their own unique way.
Jumping into an unnecessary conclusion about your direct reports will not help your agenda. If forced to choose, the top management will not hesitate to sacrifice a newbie if it means securing the operation’s well being.
The company hires a manager to improve a business, not to jeopardize it. Your direct reports are there to improve the odds. You simply have to remind yourself about the equation.
THINK BIG WHEN YOU BEGIN THE NEW CAREER
When you start a new job, always keep in mind on the big victory. In order to that, you have to dream big. It’s ok if you have not the slightest idea of achieving the grand plan. Let your gut feeling leads you when you carry out your near and middle term action plan.
My former boss cum mentor often advised me to do what I would do on my own business. She said that on the very day when I started the new job as the Bakery Manager. I used to take her advice as my mantra when I was a new manager. Not anymore.
Well, you can still take the advice as a guide but bear in mind. Your direct boss may not have any experience as an entrepreneur. Further, like any egoistic mortal, he or she wants to look good in front of the higher ups.
You can be thrifty when you run your own business, but not when you run someone else’s. In a nutshell, you want to portray yourself as enterprising and creative; not a money-pincher.
Set in motion the action plan to achieve the immediate and medium-term goals. The goals serve as the pillars of your department’s grand vision. Win lots of small battles so that the top management will buy into your ultimate strategy into becoming the core engine of the company growth.
Know this though. Thinking big is risky. I recall setting up a team of sales and production force that propelled my former business unit into achieving 100 % revenue growth in 4 years. Then we took on something much bigger.
We wanted to go nationwide. The small victories served their purpose in getting the top management to want to be part of the bakery department’s ambitious plan. Everybody wanted in. But whether the project was a success or not is another story.
ACCEPT THAT YOU ARE NOT GOD
Take out your checklist. You have stayed humble from the day you start the new job by suppressing your ego when you had your discussion with your boss. Through your worldly experience, you avoided overstepping the boundaries of other departmental heads.
Now, you do expect everything to be good right? Unfortunately, life does not normally play out according to your own sinister game plan. There will be people who hate your guts. These individuals want to stop you from taking over the world.
People. When you work alongside people, shit happens. When I started my career, I carried this notion that if I’m good to others, they will reciprocate. My naivety in dealing with people made me into believing that being a “yes” man was the best policy.
“I just wanted to be your friend” was my motto. When I took my first managerial position, I tried to be friendly with other departmental heads from the Finance, Marketing, HR and Purchasing.
As circumstances had it, people love politics. A few departmental leaders tried to credit of our little business unit. The Bakery unit was experiencing tremendous growth and our profit contributed substantially to the hospital cash income.
Everybody wanted to be seen as the person who leads our unit. The quest for power changed me into a hated warrior, although I do not know whether it is for the better or otherwise. I even went into direct confrontation with the powerful Marketing Director who had an ally in the Finance Manager during a showdown in the former’s office.
There are more tales of my political battles but, this post is not about that. You just have to realize that events can easily dictate and play out beyond anyone’s control.
Understand that all that mentioned in this blog post are mere guidelines. I haven’t gone into anything deeper like asking for God’s help because, if I go there, then there won’t be any worldly advice anymore.
Start a new job with a positive attitude and let God or your gut feeling do the rest.