Laying Siege to a New Job Using Bridges and Catapults

August 8, 2011 1 Comment

Catapult in a SiegeMoving to a new job can be scary and intimidating.  There are also many risks inherent in making that transition.  But if you think of the transition like laying siege to a fortress, you will be just fine.

There are a few major risks you must account for as you plan how to attack your next job.  Those risks include how to leave your current job on good terms, how to get up to speed on the new role quickly, and how to assimilate into your new team smoothly.  If you make a mistake in any of these transition points, you can ruin relationships, suffer poor performance, and make everyone hate you as “that new guy.”

As you leave your current role, it might be tempting to tell everyone *exactly* what you think of them as you ride off into the sunset.  Sure it’ll feel great for a day or so but that glow doesn’t last and it has no upside.  It actually carries with it a great deal of downside because those people will have an impact on your ability to get future jobs when it comes time for a recommendation.  The things they say about you will become part of your reputation.  Burning those bridges can be a very dangerous thing.

The risks you face in the new role are usually getting overwhelmed with the new job, lacking focus, failing to get to know your team, and not building trust quickly enough with your coworkers.  It’s a lot to attack in a short period of time.  Fortunately you can make your transition successful by building bridges and using catapults.

Strengthen and Build Bridges

As you leave your company or current role, it can be very tempting to tell your current coworkers or bosses exactly where they can stick certain things.  Don’t.  Bite your tongue.  There is zero upside to doing that.  In reality, there’s a ton of downside to telling people off.

In a world where a reference check is simply a LinkedIn message away, you must realize that people will talk about you at some point.  You might be up for a future promotion.  You could be trying to hire a new team member or land a new customer.  What will the person promoting you, joining your team, or buying your products hear about you from your previous boss and coworkers?  If it’s a series of rants about how you were an ass as you left the company, that’s not helpful.

Instead, build bridges.  Go out on good terms.  Save your bile for conversations with friends or family when you air your complaints about the job you’re leaving.  Go out of your way to thank folks for the good things they did while you worked with them.  Remember?  At one point you joined that company because you were excited about the job and the people…

Maintain those bridges.  Strengthen them.  Going out in a classy way can only benefit you.

As far as your new job, you need to build new bridges there.  Obviously your team members and new boss need bridges built.  You should also seek out the “go to” people in the new company quickly (more on that in catapults).  To quickly build those bridges and relationships I encourage you to draft your own personal leadership philosophy (which you know I’m a huge proponent of in my book).  Once you have that philosophy written down, you can share it with your new colleagues.  Doing so begins to build trust, understanding, and a strong relationship.

Man the Catapults!

It’s critical to get momentum quickly in a new role.  Pick a few good-sized boulders of initiatives to tackle immediately.  You can’t drive every initiative that comes your way.  Pick a few key, visible ones that you can drive within that first 100 days or so.  Demonstrate your capabilities and do so in a focused way.  If you launch those first couple of shots and hit your target with them, you’re well on your way to taking control of your new job.

Also look for people who can catapult you to success.  Ask around and find out who the key influencers are in the company.  Identify the people whose support is critical for your business area to succeed.  Build some bridges with those folks.  Understand how the work you do can help them be more successful.  Be sure to explain that you’ve thought about their goals and how you can support them.  When they recognize you’re signing up to be their ally, they’re likely to give you ammunition and help catapult your career forward because if you succeed, they succeed.

Complete the Siege

Once you’ve successfully (and gracefully) left your old job and built new relationships in your new one, you’re prepared to have impact.  Focus your efforts.  Identify the people who will partner with you in your quest to conquer the new job.  Choose your initial targets wisely and judiciously then fire away!  Taking this approach will strengthen your network and position you well to succeed in the new role you’re taking on.

– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC
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