When you’re in a new role you can feel like a fraud. You can doubt whether anything you say can make a difference, especially if you feel your ‘stretch promotion’ means someone has secret doubts about you. Perhaps you’re creating a new role the organisation has never had before and you feel you have a lot to prove.
For Janet, a member of the executive team at a major institution, everything was made worse by changing cities to take up her new role. Missing her friends, finding an apartment, not knowing the one-way streets, even getting used to a new supermarket, made her feel different. When her father fell ill, she felt even more isolated. It all culminated in feeling unsure of herself, and too raw to handle the spiky, competitive culture of her new team.
Value your difference.
I judge teams by how they treat someone who’s different. I have to constantly remind new appointees that their difference is valuable; in fact it’s vital. Even if you’re not making all the decisions, you contribute the new capabilities needed to handle complex issues. That’s why you’re there. You bring specialist knowledge, achievements and perspectives that complement the existing team’s.
The team, even your new boss, won’t always know this, expect it or enquire about it. Perhaps unfairly, it’s down to you, to value the difference and express it.
Value your loneliness
Your isolation means you’re also objective. That independence is valuable. Old issues take on a new light when you ask questions without knowing the history. Weak teams feel attacked by it. Strong teams welcome it.
You may not be perfect but you’re the best fit to help with joint decision making. You add the flavour necessary to make the group’s decision better – the new role for you also creates a new group for everyone else.
How to join quickly
- Give the background to your views. The rest of the group may not know details about your experience that support your viewpoint.
- Remember you are a sensitive instrument for good decisions. Don’t claim to know the whole answer, but you have the right to your perspective and you’re absolutely entitled to be curious. Help the group figure out how it fits into the bigger picture.
- Make it clear when you’ve changed your mind or understood something afresh. It can trigger more trust in your view.
Respect, your right and your secret sauce
That’s why when I work through the Ferocity framework, the ‘R’ word, ‘Respected’ is so important to new executives. The irony is that while Respect got you the role, your doubt – which is your lack of respect for yourself – can derail you. Hoist this snake of self-doubt to the surface and take a good look at it! Is it really as vicious as it feels? In the light of day, with a bit of logic, and some social courage you’ll notice that it’s real, but just a worm. Harmless!
For some more ideas on how to handle a role when you’ve just won it, become a free member. Join my free webinars during the year on topics related to career strategy, career transitions and executive performance.
Let me know what being the new person has been like for you – great or terrible!
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