What leaders must do before Day One of a job

Tracey starts her new job today. She is the incoming director of quality for a manufacturing organization, and she’s ready to hit the ground running. Tracey is going have a successful first 30 days in her new role. Why? Because she has made the transition into new organizations on several occasions, and she’s learned a few things about how to go from unknown entity to respected leader in short order.

Tracey’s plan for success started well before her first day on the job. She brings with her a solid track record -- having garnered national industry awards for her previous company and high employee-engagement scores on her organization’s annual employee-satisfaction survey. So she knows that being “ready to roll” on day one requires some preparation and coalition-building. Here’s what Tracey did to prepare for her new gig:

Created space between the old and new job. Planning for a new job while wrapping up your current one can be can physically and emotionally exhausting. That’s why Tracey negotiated a two-week gap in between her old job and new one. It gave her the time to enact the strategies listed below. It also provided the mental capacity to unwind from rigors of her previous job, allowing a fresh outlook on her exciting new opportunity.

Enlisted support of key players in the new organization. Before joining her new company, Tracey made contact with the key people she met during the interview process: the HR director, her work team leader, and peers who will be key to the success of her new role. She’s already set up meetings with each of them for her first week on the job. She also asked for a list of other “must meet” people so that she can be ready to set up meetings with them after she arrives at her new place of employment.

Got a jump start on Day One. Many leaders wait until their first day on the job to start relationship-building, and frankly, that’s a bit late in the game. Leaders entering a new role will be barraged with requests from people with ideas on how solve the many “problems” the department (or organization) has. Therefore, the coalition-building must start as soon as the job is accepted. Taking the list of “must meet” people, Tracey did her homework, researching the professional backgrounds on these individuals on LinkedIn. She also reached out to her contacts to learn as much as she can about the new players and the organization, so she’s ready to build rapport once she starts.

Created a plan for meeting the new team. As part of her preparation, Tracey asked the HR director, Sam, to help set up meetings with her new team. Lucky for Tracey, the organization has a formalized process called the “New Leader Assimilation” -- a structured process for gathering information about a new team and their new leader. Sam will lead that process during the first week that Tracey is on board. In addition to the formalized process, Tracey has also considered more informal ways to connect with her team. She’s heard they love food, so she’ll treat them to lunch that first week.

Set the stage to maintain current connections. Tracey is on good terms with her previous employer, so as soon as the details were announced for her departure, she made sure to reach out to her connections throughout the organization to give them her new contact information. She knows that maintaining connections is the lifeblood of her career development. Tracey also reached out to her suppliers and other colleagues with whom she’s built strong relationships over the years to provide her new contact information.

Starting a new job is exciting. But it can be overwhelming, too. New leaders who take charge of their transition (as Tracey did) beyond just filling out the new-employee paperwork and doing a few “meet and greets” will be far more prepared to take on the challenges of their new role.

Jennifer V. Miller is a leadership development consultant whose writing and digital training materials help business professionals better lead themselves and others towards greater career success. Follow Miller on LinkedIn and sign up for her free tip sheet: “Why is it So Hard to Shut Up? 18 Ways to THINK before you Speak.”

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