Saturday, June 20, 2009

Make A Smooth Transition by Sattar Bawany

In today’s workplace, employees are changing jobs and careers more than ever before, resulting in a transient workforce.

Today’s professional is likely to have six to eight different employers and potentially three direction changes throughout their career.

This means businesses need individuals who can fit into the role and perform from day one. While the skills that allow you to be immediately and effectively productive are highly sought after by employers, the good news is they aren’t that difficult to master.

Many people are accustomed to the challenges that come with starting a new job and are confident enough to hit the ground running. But what if it’s been a long time since you had a career change? For those who have been with a single employer for an extended period of time, a change of employer is often as daunting as it is exciting.

Here are some tips on how you can make the best transition:

1. Observe others

When embarking on a new role, the first rule to follow is to simply observe how people operate and interact with each other in your new work environment. Every organisation has its own unique culture. Aim to get a good understanding of the language, working styles and collaboration among team members.

Learn who the key players and decision-makers are and speak to them about how they like to do business. Get a feel for the methods, structure and hierarchy and whether collaboration and innovation are openly embraced, or achieved in small steps.

2. Be willing to adapt your working style

Every organisation does things slightly differently. Draw upon the skills and experience you built up with your previous employer, but don’t think that you can do things in exactly the same way. Even though you will deliver the same quality of work, you may need to change the way you go about it.

Remember also that you are not going to change the world in a day — it is unrealistic and unfair to expect otherwise.

The most effective workers and leaders do not “reinvent the wheel” but rather, copy good ideas and make them relevant to the environment they are in.

3. Ask for help

If you are finding the demands of your new role challenging, ask for help and, more importantly, ask for feedback. A steady, constructive, open approach and clear communication of what you are doing with your fellow workers will help you win the career performance race.

You should never be too proud to approach others for help, or consider it a sign of weakness. It’s perfectly normal to feel out of your comfort zone at times, but you can manage this by communicating with others.

Your organisation may even have a formal coaching programme in place to help you through the transition. Ask if this is something that is available to you and if it isn’t, let your seniors know this is something you are interested in pursuing.

4. Focus on your achievements

Even when you are feeling challenged, it is important to maintain an optimistic outlook and focus on your achievements rather than the mistakes that often come with a new role.

Don’t place unnecessary pressure on yourself by making ambitious predictions about what you are going to achieve in the first day with a new employer. Instead, develop small, measurable and achievable goals. When you feel more sure of yourself and comfortable in your new surroundings, stretch the next goal further.

5. Know what is expected of you

A critical part of being successful in a new organisation is to be clear about the goals and expectations of the organisation, and align your own personal goals to these.

By focusing on what matters and what is expected, you will ensure you are keeping your eye on the bigger picture. By taking things one step at a time, remaining open to change and asking for feedback along the way, you will build the foundations for your success.

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