Have you just been promoted to a new executive role? Whether you are in a new organization or promoted to a new leadership role, you are now a leader in transition.
Congratulations! Exciting times lie ahead: you have new things to learn, new opportunities, and all this accompanied with an attractive package.
The first months of your new career are critical – the first impressions you make, from the way you motivate your team, to your communication style and your leadership can make or break this new move.
Your company has invested a great deal of time and effort into choosing the right person for this role, so surely the outlook for you both is a good one? Caveat! Your promotion comes with hidden traps that can sabotage even the most experienced leader. Did you know that 50% of outside senior hires fail within the first 18 months according to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation?* And it’s not much better when it comes to internal promotions: “40% of internal job moves made by people identified by their companies as high potentials end in failure” states the Harvard Business Review.**
Whether you are a newly promoted talent or external hire, as an executive in a new role you are firmly in the hot seat. But since you have been hired for your expertise and skill, it is likely that your company will not worry too much about you. As a Managing Director of a Fortune 100 company told me:
“…in big corporations no-one foresees that a manager in transition has the potential to fail. Most bosses assume that anyone that takes on a new assignment will be successful. The bigger the organization, the less they care, as there will be many more managers waiting to fill up that position if the first one fails. ”
So how are you going to ensure that you are one of those leaders who succeed in their new role? If you are aware of the following nine traps that could sabotage your career, and you learn the simple steps you can take to avoid them, chances are high that you will hit the ground running and create the right impact in your new role!
Trap #1 — What They Don’t Tell You in Your Executive Job Description
You want to be certain that your new role is a springboard to a glittering career. One way that you can sabotage your career though is to rely too heavily on your job description.
You have just been promoted to or hired for a high level position. You know that the company wants to see an attractive ROI for what they invest in you, too. But do you really know what the company expects from you?
The trap before you is: few large organizations clearly communicate their full expectations to senior leaders. Whilst every shop floor worker is given clear instructions about what to do and how, it is somehow expected that from a director level upwards, people have an innate sense of ‘knowing’.
You may be given very little direction – in a worst case scenario, they might say ‘there’s your laptop, now go and hit the numbers’ (this does happen, unfortunately). But even in a best case scenario, most leaders are only given an outline job description, with phrases like “maximizing cash flow”. You can be sure that beneath such phases, there are a lot of hidden expectations about what you should do and how; things that nobody will tell you.
If you don’t know exactly what these expectations are, you are setting yourself up for failure. You might think you are doing a great job only to find that you are running at full tilt in the wrong direction, sabotaging your own career by doing the wrong things, the right things but wrong, or not doing things you were never told to do.
Not clarifying expectations that come with a new assignment may lead to frustration on both sides. Stakeholders are not getting the results they want, and for you, the ‘promising talent’, your step up might turn into a step out.
This is one of the fastest ways to get yourself invited into the CEO’s office for a very uncomfortable discussion about your future…
However, there is a super simple way to avoid this trap: just ask!
If you are an executive in a new role or preparing for one, and you want to make the perfect first impressions, do not fall into the trap of making assumptions about what you should do or how you should do it. If you feel that expectations have not been communicated specifically enough to you, take the time to ask your bosses and stakeholders what they want. Don’t be shy: go to your CEO and other stakeholders and ask them questions such as:
- What do you expect from me in this role specifically?
- How will my performance will be measured?
- If I hit my targets, will it matter how they have been achieved?
- What would impress you?
- What must I not do?
Don’t be surprised if people don’t have clear answers for you immediately; they might not have thought in-depth about these questions themselves, yet. As you survey a number of stakeholders, watch out for contradicting statements, and if there are controversial points of view, think about how you can resolve these without stepping on some nasty political landmines.
The first step in avoiding the eight traps that can sabotage your career is this – find out exactly what your new CEO and stakeholders need and want you do to. And then do it.
By getting crystal clear on exactly what your key stakeholders expect from you, and then managing these expectations, you will successfully navigate around the first trap that could sabotage your new career. That’s one key to hit the ground running and create the impact you want to have during these critical times in transition.
In my next article, you will discover just how the WHO can sabotage your career as easily as the WHAT and HOW.
* “Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success” by Talya N. Bauer
** “How to Keep Your Top Talent”, Jean Martin and Conrad Schmidt
If you would like an individual consultation on how to hit the ground running and create the right impact as an executive in transition, contact me now:
phone: +66-2 107 2025